On August 14, 1997, I was able to witness the birth of my nephew, Damion Michael Henderson.
For the next 16 years, 6 months and 23 days, I watched him grow from an infant into a young man. He was a loving, caring person who dreamed of going to college and playing professional football.
Damion was like most other little boys. As a toddler he liked Blues Clues, then Pokémon cards (because his older brother liked them) and Spiderman.
I watched as he started school, graduated from Kindergarten, made new friends and turned into a “social butterfly”. I remember when was so excited when learned to read.
He was so thoughtful, if he was going to get a treat, he’d want one for his brothers too. He was just a down to earth kid who took life one day at a time. He was a friend to everyone he met.
One of the last Instagram selfies Damion took said “Dewey’s Pizza, then Gameworks. Amazing Day ahead”. Little did he know that on the way home from that outing his life would come to an abrupt end. That amazing day turned into a tragedy that we are all suffering with. The adult who had been entrusted to keep the kids safe (a friend’s father) decided to drink while on the outing with the boys (his son, Damion and another friend).
He then drove at rates in excess of 100 mph, losing control of the vehicle. Damion was ejected from the vehicle, dying a short time later as his two friends watched. The father tried to get rid of evidence, even stepping over Damion as he lay there dying. Our children deserve better than this.
Our family has not been the same since this tragedy. Holidays and birthdays are not the same. We now have to “visit” Damion at a gravesite. The High School Graduation that Damion would have attended in 2016 was a sorrowful event for us. His school placed a Graduation cap, gown and flowers on an empty seat where Damion would have sat. The school band played a song in tribute to him.
Not only did this affect our family, but the driver’s family, the other friend who witnessed this along with the many other people who stopped to help at the crash scene as well as all of the many friends Damion had.
Our hearts go out to everyone who has endured the tragedy of losing someone to the senseless act of drunk or drugged driving and our hope is to end these tragedies. Kids shouldn’t have to worry that the person taking them for a ride may end up killing or hurting them.
I listen to people who feel unheard. I stand with victims who too often realize that it’s called the “criminal” justice system, not the "victim" justice system.
But, mostly, I simply help victims realize they aren’t alone.
That’s what I did for Judy, whose daughter was killed by Dylan Meyers, a repeat offender who blatantly laughed off the court’s slap on the wrist. As we sat in court together, Judy said, “Just the fact that you are sitting here next to me tells me I don’t have to do this by myself.”
Judy isn’t alone.
This year, we are aiming to activate 51,000 new and previous supporters, and we hope you will join us. If you do, I’ll send you quarterly email updates letting you know how your gift is making a real difference in victims’ lives.
Between more than 10,000 killed and 295,000 injured in drunk and drugged driving crashes, there are more than 305,000 victims a year in need of our help. That’s 35 people per hour.
Making a $35 membership gift today will ensure we can continue traveling to be at victims' side at court hearings and answer their calls to our 24/7 Victim Help Line.
If you have already given to the campaign through the mail, thank you so very much. Truly, I am touched by your generosity.
I am not just an advocate. I am a victim of drunk driving, too.
Sometimes, the mission to end drunk driving can seem overwhelming, but I am here to tell you with absolute certainty – we are making a difference!
What Do Chips Have to Do With Preventing Drunk Driving?
Everything! MADD, Tostitos and UBER are teaming up to remove 25,000 potential drunk drivers from the roads on Super Bowl Sunday!
If you think about it, the average adult football fan will be watching the Big Game with a chip in one hand and an alcoholic drink in the other. But how do we make sure everyone gets home safely?
Fans have a new way to “Party Safe” thanks to Tostitos providing a safe ride home via Uber. By simply entering a Tostitos Tortilla Chips UPC code into the Uber app, fans nationwide can receive $10 off their ride on February 5th.
Regardless of what team wins the biggest football game of the year, MADD wants everyone to win by having roads free of drunk drivers. In 2015 nearly half of all traffic fatalities were caused by drunk driving on Super Bowl Sunday — compared to 28 drunk driving deaths on an “average” day. Every death an injury is 100% preventable every time!
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans Tight End lost two of his biggest fans, his aunt Peaches and uncle Bryan, who were killed by a drunk driver on their way home after watching him play in Super Bowl XLVII in 2013. Following this tragedy, Delanie partnered with MADD to help people stay safe on the roads during football season and all year round.
“Having a good time and being safe go hand in hand," says Delanie, a MADD volunteer. “Losing the Super Bowl is nothing compared to the real heartbreaking loss I suffered that night.”
That’s why MADD and Delanie are asking everyone to:
• Plan ahead and designate a non-drinking driver if your plans include alcohol.
• Take the MADD pledge to Party Safe on Super Bowl Sunday.
• Check out how to get $10 off your Uber ride one Sunday, Feb. 5th (only available for use 2/5/17; while supplies last).
Everybody wins when everybody plans ahead to party safe!
I’ll never forget the strength and the courage I received from my victim advocate after my son Dustin was killed by an underage, drinking and drugged driver.
Michelle provided me with a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen. Ultimately, she gave me hope that one day I would smile again during a time when everything seemed dark.
That’s why we are proud to share the 2017 membership campaign. We are asking all MADD supporters to renew their membership pledge today by “adopting” an advocate, the individual who offers emotional support and help to a victim in their time of need.
Many people may have participated in our annual January membership campaign previously, and we can't say thank you enough to these core members who make it possible fight drunk and drugged driving and underage drinking. We hope everyone will join us in 2017 as well.
We have set a goal of bringing in 51,000 members to symbolically represent the fact that someone is killed by drunk driving every 51 minutes.
And, for that, we need everyone who believes in a future of No More Victims® to speak up!
Let's meet the advocates:
Kristi covers nearly 80 counties in Illinois. She struggles to fund all the trips and visits needed to sit and hold a hand or attend a court hearing.
Often, she is the person walking into a person's life when everyone else is walking out.
|Serving all of southwest Missouri, Laura acted as the voice for the victims in the Dylan Meyers case, which made headlines last year thanks to the offenders' blatant lack of remorse.|
When you pledge support for an advocate by renewing your membership, that advocate will share quarterly updates so you can witness firsthand the difference you are making in real people's lives.
We hope you will consider helping us reach our goal of 51,000 members by adopting one of these dedicated difference makers.
MADD West Texas Program Manager Vanessa Luna-Marquez has been speaking up against drunk driving – and people are hearing her!
She earned recognition from 34th Judicial District Attorney Jaime Esparza for her service to the community.
"It is with great pleasure to present you with the HELP, HOPE, HEALING, VOICE award at this year's 'A Voice Against Crime' 10-mile walk across El Paso," a letter from DA Esparza reads. "You are being recognized because you play an important role and go the extra mile in our mission to provide HELP, HOPE, HEALING and VOICE to victims of crime on their long road to recovery. You are truly an asset to our community's victims."
Vanessa said she was honored and humbled to be recognized.
"Over the years working at MADD, I have met many families whose lives have been impacted and changed when their loved one is killed or injured in a drunk driving crash," Vanessa said. "I feel blessed to be part of their lives and help take healing steps; it is an honor to keep the legacy of their loved ones alive thru my work in the community."
MADD provides a victim service at no charge every three minutes, making it one of the largest nonprofits for victims of violent crimes. It is only through the dedication of people like Vanessa that we are able to be there for so many people.