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Full Family Trees
By Jan Withers | January 8, 2014| 9 Comments | Filed in: National President , Victim Services , Drunk Driving , General

My son gave my daughter, Jennifer, a subscription to ancestry.com for Christmas, and with her husband, she has focused on rooting around their family tree. As I watch, I cannot help but notice a huge hole.

My son Kevin is married and adds a beautiful wife to our family. Jennifer is married and adds a wonderful husband and delightful sons. But Alisa, who was killed by a drunk driver when she was 15-years-old, is entered with the date she was born and the date she died. Her lineage stops with her. There begins a hole in the tree that reminds me of the hole in my heart.

This is my last year to serve as MADD National President. It is a privilege to walk along side each of you. Everywhere I go I take you with me in my heart, which is such an honor.

I have been asked what I am most proud of accomplishing in this position. Goodness. I can’t answer that because, you see, “I” do not accomplish anything alone. Rather, “we” are accomplishing so much together.

I want to say I am most proud of how we support people who have been victimized by substance-impaired driving. We are a powerhouse of kindness and knowledge. I want to say I am most proud of our research-based way of reducing underage drinking. I want to say I am most proud of how we are successfully reducing drunk driving in states that have passed all-offender alcohol ignition laws. I want to say I am most proud of the forward movement in the advanced technology research, the DADSS program, which will one day eliminate drunk driving.

It is for all these reasons that I am filled with not just hope, but with certainty, that we will save even more lives. We will not rest until there are no more holes in family trees caused by underage drinking or drunk driving. We will work hard to ensure that our family trees are filled with great stories and robust legends, not empty promises of what might have been.

That’s why this new year, as every year, I am resolved to work side-by-side and arm-in-arm with you to save lives and support people. I humbly say to each of you, thank you for being in my life and being part of my family.


   

Comments

Submitted by MADD Staff at 11:25 AM on February 10, 2014
To L.M. Wright, you can find the contact info for our Connecticut office at www.madd.org/ct.
Submitted by L..M. WRIGHT at 02:56 PM on February 7, 2014
I HAVE NOT BEEN NOTIFIED TO GO TO HELP AT THE VICTIM IMPACT PANELS, FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS. I WOULD LIKE TO GO TO WALK LIKE MADD, IN CHESIRE, CT. I'LL HAVE TO FIND OUT HOW TO GET THERE, BUT I WILL. I HOPE TO HEAR FROM YOU, SOMETIME.203 267-1067.
Submitted by Donnie King at 11:21 AM on February 6, 2014
Yes....the branch with Alisa Joy Withers is a glaring fact that we were robbed by someones careless and selfless act. Instead of family gatherings to celebrate new milestones and achivements that Alisa would have had, we gather for somber moments of remeberance. But a different limb now grows, a limb with the names of people we will never know....names of those saved by your efforts to erase drunk driving. I am very proud to call you Mom.
Submitted by Tara P., MADD Western PA at 12:41 AM on January 31, 2014
Thank you for all you do Jan! You have been and continue to be an amazing leader for this organization!
Submitted by Anne Pratt at 09:02 AM on January 11, 2014
Thank you for sharing your thoughts about your Family Tree and leading us through the past few of years as MADD President. Just as there is a void in the Family Tree, an empty chair will always exist in our daily lives along with the hole in our hearts. The grief never goes away, it just becomes part of who we are. I often wish I could share that eternal heartache with those who chose to drive drunk or drugged. If they could walk in our shoes for just for 5 minutes.....I believe most would make the right decision and never get behind the wheel ever again after using alcohol or drugs.
Submitted by Nancy at 02:13 PM on January 10, 2014
Jason and I miss Alisa everyday.
Submitted by Limo at 09:37 AM on January 10, 2014
I have 27 years exp. in the tavern business in the state of PA. Ramps certifications for owners and managers in PA is a wonderful thing,"but" they forgot about the special permit holders. Baseball teams,churches and fire halls that serve alcohol one or two weekends per year. THEY ARE PLAYING A DEADLY GAME. In my opinion alcohol is a drug and the special permit holders have no idea, they think its all fun and games "until someone gets killed"!!!! Lets all work to get special permit holders in PA. RAMPS certified,they are playing a DEADLY game serving a DEADLY drug "ALCOHOL". Thanks Limo
Submitted by Judy Utter at 05:27 PM on January 9, 2014
What a beautiful message - Thank you Jan for all you have done and continue to do. My Jennifer and your Alisa are so proud of their Mom's
Submitted by Amberlynn at 01:35 PM on January 9, 2014
I too have a break in my family tree as my daughter who was 14 was killed by an inattentive driver. He wasn't drinking though. She was my only child.

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