Why We’re Here: Mary Irwin


On July 17, 1996, 13-year-old Mary Irwin spent the summer day playing with her best friends, Jesse and Jodi. When it was time for Mary to go home that evening, Jesse and Jodi’s older sister Tracey offered to drive her. So they all piled into their parents van.

On their way, they made a quick stop for snow cones. And after deciding what flavor to get, they hopped back in the van to head home. The next thing Mary remembers is sharp pain, sirens, and panic.

A drunk driver with a BAC almost three times the legal limithad sped across the center line and hit their car head on. Mary, Jesse, and Jodi were severely injured. And Tracey, who was driving the van, died before she made it to the hospital.

A stop for frozen treats on a warm summer night ended in hospital stays and a funeral, and changed many lives forever.

Mary was forced to grow up with the physical and mental scars of the crash – the scar on her face reminders her every day of that tragic night. She still experiences anxiety driving, especially at night.

Now, Mary volunteers with her local MADD office to help save lives. She volunteers at several victim impact panels each month, sharing her story to save lives. She also participants in vigils and monthly support groups to help provide the much needed support for other victims and survivors during their healing journey. She also supports MADD Missouri at their fundraising events, and is a team captain for “Team Tracy” at the St. Louis Walk Like MADD.

Mary works to help make sure no other children have to grow up living with the life-changing consequences of someone else’s choice to drink and drive. So that they can go get snow cones on a summer night without putting their lives in danger.


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