Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the 2016 California Statewide Law Enforcement and Community Recognition Luncheon at the Town & Country Resort & Convention Center in San Diego.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the California Office of Traffic Safety honored more than 400 law enforcement officers, highway patrol members and first responders for their relentless work to keep drunk and drugged drivers off the California roadways. They hailed from across the state from Alameda to Los Angeles to Walnut Creek.
Among the speakers were Escondido Police Chief Craig Carter, who also is President of the San Diego County Police Chief’s and Sheriff’s Association, as well as Operations Deputy Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety Randy Weisman, and MADD San Diego Executive Director Steve Lykins. Former MADD National Board Member and retired California Highway Patrol Officer Robert ”Skip” Carter served as the Master of Ceremonies.
I also had the opportunity to speak for MADD National and express our extreme gratitude for the efforts of the law enforcement officers who are working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This seemed an especially well-timed thank you, as California legislators are currently considering SB 1046, which will make ignition interlocks mandatory for all offenders. Currently, California only offers ignition interlock protection to residents in four counties.
No one understands the dangers of drunk driving more than the law enforcement officials. They stand up to protect us every day, even when it demands the ultimate sacerfice. For them especially, I urge you to contact your legislators in support of this life-saving bill. Learn more about this bill here. It was an honor to recognize these heroes.
I can easily say that I join the many others in the room that California Heroes are ……TODAY, TOMORROW AND ALWAYS. Thank you California Law Enforcement for your efforts to end drunk driving. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
It’s an honor for me to be the voice of thousands of victims and attend these gatherings around the country. Every year, law enforcement officers save thousands of lives. With their continued efforts and ours at MADD, the hope is that one day, there will be NO MORE VICTIMS®.
Nicole died right after graduation.
"It was the worst Father’s Day present my husband has ever received. Father’s day has never and will never be the same again," said Nicole's mother, Teresa Moats.
These are words from Theresa Moats when asked how the crash that occurred on Father’s Day, June 15, 2008 in Licking County, Ohio changed their lives.
Nicole Swigert Moats, 18, was headed home with four friends from the local movie theater. This particular movie theater was a popular hangout spot, so it was not unusual for Nicole and her friends to go to the movies often.
It was a little after midnight when the drunk driver crashed into the vehicle driven by Nicole’s friend. Nicole and two of her friends were killed and the other passenger sustained serious injuries. The offender was 2X's the legal limit and sentenced to 10 years for three counts of vehicular homicide and one count of vehicular assault.
Mr. and Mrs. Moats always taught their children about drinking and driving. In fact, in 7th grade Nicole completed a project that focused on the 10 important things in life. Number three was “don’t drink and drive.”
Mr. and Mrs. Moats appreciate the support MADD has given them and the mission to eliminate drunk driving.
“Nicole had a contagious personality, was a really good kid and never got into any trouble, worked two jobs in high school, and wanted to be a veterinarian once she completed college, “ said Teresa Moats when asked to describe how she remembers Nicole. “I am against drinking and driving, always have been and always will be.”
UPDATE: Don't forget that the make-up day for Houston Walk Like MADD is June 18th at San Jacinto College South Campus, 13725 Beamer Road in Houston. We want all our walkers, law enforcement officers, community members, and volunteers to enjoy the full walk experience!
We will ring our tribute bells and speak the name of victims as we walk to end drunk driving.
Since rain continues to threaten the event, we've moved it to the San Jacinto South Campus, which has plenty of paved parking, a green area for tents, and a secure walk route. In addition, there is easy access from Beltway 8 or I45 South.
The rain won't wash us out. This is going to be the best Houston Walk Like MADD ever! You can still register to join us. We hope to see you at the Walk.
If you have any questions, please email Heather Smith at Heather.Smith@MADD.org
Editor's Note: The blog was originally published after the Houston Walk Like MADD was delayed until June 18th due to flooding in the venue and throughout the area. Below is how MADD turned the rain delay into a kickoff rally.
During the past year and a half, I’ve found that things don’t always go as planned… especially if the weather’s involved. That was the case for the Houston Walk Like MADD event May 21st. Heavy rain flooded the park where the Walk was to have taken place. MADD quickly shifted into high gear with a flurry of phone calls, texts, and contingency plans. The nervous energy infected everyone on the team and set butterflies off in my stomach.
But the enthusiasm from the MADD Southeast Texas team turned out to run deeper than the water. We were here to honor victims. We were here to remember lost loved ones. And we were here to end drunk driving – and no amount of rain clouds could quench our shared desire to make this a momentous morning.
They decided to hold a Rally and more than 300 super-charged volunteers and victims turned out for the event. Velocity's Chris Jacobs joined me at the event. We spoke to the crowd and met with the victims. Many fans couldn’t pass up a chance to snap a quick selfie with the former Overhaulin’ star. Chris, who previously appeared in a MADD PSA, was all smiles as he walked with his group, Team #OverhaulinMADD. Jacob’s also serves as a national spokesperson for Velocity’s Drive Smart, an advocacy campaign created by Velocity with the help of MADD to encourage and raise awareness for safe driving practices on America’s roadways. Velocity donated $5,000 to the walk.
Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Harris County District Attorney’s office and other law enforcement departments made a strong showing, which makes sense. These heroes are on the front lines of one of the most dangerous counties in the country for drunk driving.
Before the walk, we filled the park with the chime of bells and a shared shout of, “Drunk Driving Ends Here!” A pinwheel memorial was set up with one pinwheel representing each of the people lost to drunk driving in the Houston area.
Southeast Texas has one of the largest MADD Advisory Boards – and I was honored to meet a few of the top-notch members. Awards were passed out to the top teams as they gathered to remember their friends and loved ones who were killed or injured by drunk drivers. In the end, the rain didn’t stand a chance, not when we had energized walkers and hard-working volunteers dedicated to making sure this event honored our lost loved ones and raised donations to create a future of No More Victims®.
I know they’ll be back at Sugarland Creek Park on June 18th, the rain date for the run, and I hope they get a bright, sunny day… and I hope the “creek don’t rise."
For more information and to register visit www.walklikemadd.org/houston.
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