Teen Spirit is Alive in Rhode Island

As MADD celebrates our 35 anniversary, MADD Rhode Island’s Youth Leadership Training, also known as Teen Spirit, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. And last week, I had the honor of speaking at the closing session of their four-day event for more than 200 high school students who were selected as leaders in their communities from all across the Ocean State.

The event was featured sessions on alcohol and drugs, safe driving, seat belts, public speaking, prevention, creating DUI public service announcements and personal commitments. They had some fun too… an ice cream social, a dance party, even creating chants and songs. (And don’t think that the staff didn’t join in.)

One parent with whom I spoke afterward told me that she was confident her daughter would attend next year.  She said her daughter was a little shy in the beginning, but when she only called once to say hello, she knew she was having fun, learning, and meeting new lifelong friends.

It was a day I will remember for quite some time….the faces, the smiles, the energy, the enthusiasm and the hugs.

The Rhode Island Teen Spirit 2015 showed me that the leaders of tomorrow are here today… and Rhode Island will have a safer future because of them.

Concrete Truck Raises Awareness for MADD

Campbell Concrete and Materials in Houston, TX, joined us this year at the Houston Walk Like MADD on June 27th in honor of one of their drivers, Rafael Guerrero and his family. Rafael, his wife Alejandra, their son Luis Angel and Alejandra's brother Gilberto Ortega Jr. were all killed in a drunk driving crash last August.

Thirty Campbell Concrete employees attended the Walk, where they revealed their newly designed “MADD truck” dedicated to Rafael. The truck has MADD’s logo and our 24-hour Help Line number on the side to help remind drivers that drinking and driving don’t mix. It also helps raise awareness for MADD’s free victim services. In fact, the driver of the new MADD truck has been trained to provide information about MADD, and refer victims to MADD Victim Services.

Thank you Campbell Concrete and Materials for this unique way to honor victims and help raise awareness.

2015 Campaign Success

You did it! Your emails, phone calls and personal visits to lawmakers have made the difference in getting new legislation passed to protect our loved ones from drunk driving.

This year, Texas became the 25th state with an all-offender ignition interlock law. That means, thanks to you, we are halfway to reaching our goal of every state passing a law for ignition interlocks after the first drunk driving offense!

In addition, Kentucky passed a law requiring interlocks for first-time offenders with a BAC of .15 or higher. And in Colorado, you helped get a law passed that makes drunk driving a felony after the fourth offense and increases the ignition interlock requirement for repeat offenders.

Your efforts also helped put more muscle into an all-offender ignition interlock law in Arkansas. Now, convicted offenders can only get their driving privileges restored after proving they have used an ignition interlock. And last month in Illinois, lawmakers sent to the Governor three bills improving the state’s all-offender law.

And we’re not done yet. We are so close in New Jersey to enacting a life-saving interlock law. In February, the legislature sent an all-offender bill to the Governor’s desk. However, the Governor agreed to sign a revised all-offender bill, provided lawmakers make some changes. MADD hopes lawmakers and the Governor can come to an agreement this fall so New Jersey can enact this important legislation.  

We are also still working hard in several other states to get laws passed this year, including North Carolina, Ohio, California, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Click here to contact your lawmakers to advocate for change.

The passage of ignition interlock laws for all offenders is a key element of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®. Requiring all convicted drunk drivers to use ignition interlocks to prove they are sober before they can start their vehicles has been shown to save lives and stop drunk driving. Click here to learn more about ignition interlocks.

Thank you for all of your efforts to help save lives and eliminate drunk driving. We are now one step closer to becoming a nation with No More Victims™!

“How Are Your Parents Doing?”: Siblings’ Unacknowledged Grief and Loss (Guest Blog)

By Dr. Gloria Horsley, an internationally known grief expert and author, and her daughter Dr. Heidi Horsley. Gloria is the founder of the Open to Hope foundation.

Losing a sibling is one of the worst things that can ever happen, especially if the sibling dies before his or her time. Siblings travel together throughout life, and have a shared history. The sibling relationship is the longest we will ever have. Most of us, if we are lucky, will share 80%-100% of our lifespans with our siblings. My daughters, Heidi, Rebecca and Heather will tell you that the death in an automobile crash of their brother, Scott, at age 17 was the worst thing that could have happened. They felt their loss was minimized by their world. Although my husband and I did worry about our three grieving teenage daughters, friends and extended family mainly focused on how my husband and I were doing. We received bushel baskets of sympathy cards, whereas my daughters received only a handful.

Sibling Messages

In the weeks and months after Scott’s death my daughters were often asked, "How are your parents doing?" or they were given the instruction to "Be strong for your parents". How can a grieving sibling possibly be strong when their brother or sister has died? This kind of loss turns one’s world upside down, and puts everything into question. It is a double loss; you lose not only your sibling but also the emotional availability of your parents. Siblings can feel a wide range of emotions including anger at their deceased sibling for disrupting their lives.

My daughters not only grieved Scott’s loss, but also grieved for the future they would never have. One where they would have attended each other’s graduations and weddings, raised their children together and cared for aging parents. The death of a sibling is just wrong, especially when it is a sudden death. There is no chance to say goodbye, no chance to say you are sorry for the arguments you had. Siblings do hear the words “take care of your parents” and are frankly concerned about their parents as many have never heard their dad cry so loudly or seen their mom in such an emotionally vulnerable position.

Surviving Sibling Loss

Sibling loss is painful no matter how or when your sibling died. You can take actions to remember your sibling, and help others acknowledge your loss. If you are a bereaved sibling, below are some suggestions;

  • Simply recognize and acknowledge the magnitude of your sibling loss.
  • During the holidays decorate a wreath with some of your sibling’s favorite things.
  • Remember your sibling’s birthday with a cake and/or a song.
  • Cook your sibling’s favorite dish and share it with friends and family.
  • Light a candle in your sibling’s memory.
  • Recount memories and funny stories about growing-up with your sibling, and pass these stories down to younger family members and friends.

Remember it is not how your sibling died but how they lived and impacted your life that is important.  If you have lost hope please lean on ours until you have found your own.  Things will get better. 



Volunteer Spotlight: Arlene Victor

Giving your time to an organization is always praiseworthy. But when you dedicate 30 years to a cause … well that is just extraordinary.

This year, the MADD Iowa Chapter celebrates its 30 year anniversary, and the woman who started it all, celebrates 30 years of saving lives and serving people.

Arlene Victor found herself facing the unthinkable when a drunk driver killed her son Marty and his wife Chris on Easter Sunday in 1984. Kelley, her 16-month-old granddaughter, was hospitalized for a week after the crash – her arm had been broken in five places.

Suddenly, she found herself grieving her son and daughter-in-law while also caring for her granddaughter, now orphaned by the crash. Arlene and her husband Cletus were named Kelley’s legal guardians, and made providing for her their priority. 

She explained in a MADD Victim Services newsletter article in 2007, “What doesn’t kill you makes you strong.  I didn’t have a choice about what happened, but I did have a choice about what to do with the rest of my life.”

It wasn’t long before Arlene met others impacted by this senseless crime. Together, they decided that something had to be done to ensure their children’s deaths were not in vain. So in 1985 they applied and were granted a charter, creating the Dubuque-Jackson County MADD Chapter in Iowa.

Since becoming a MADD volunteer, Arlene has spoken to tens of thousands of young people in area schools and colleges, hosted bi-monthly Victim Impact Panels, raised money to provide local law enforcement with video and breathalyzer equipment, launched public awareness campaigns, provided victim advocacy for those impacted by drunk or drugged driving, and ensured that MADD maintained a presence in Iowa every day for the last 30 years. In short, she’s nothing short of remarkable. 

MADD cannot begin to say thank you enough to Arlene for her tireless dedication and efforts to save lives in Iowa. But she doesn’t do it for praise or thanks. She does it to save lives. And undoubtedly, she has done just that.

If you are interested in saving lives like Arlene, consider becoming a MADD volunteer. Click here to sign up and someone from a MADD office near you will contact you. Every hour you give helps put us one step closer to a future with No More Victims™.

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