Each time I attend a Law Enforcement Recognition event, I am incredibly moved by the men and women who do so much on the front line to keep drunk drivers off the road. They put themselves in harms way every day to keep others safe.
In fact, in the past decade more than 600 law enforcement officers have been killed in traffic fatalities, making it the number one cause of death.
So, I was pleased to honor more than 400 Florida officers and first responders in Fort Lauderdale this month.
I had the honor to speak at the even, and I shared how much we appreciate their work. In 2014, 685 people in Florida killed by drunk drivers and hundreds more injured. Those numbers would have been even higher if it weren't for the group that attended the event that night. And because of their efforts, each of them received the top honor in DUI enforcement.
I met a victim that night. His name Bill DeMott, a former NXT head trainer and WWE wrestler who traded in wrestling rings to fight with MADD to eliminate drunk and drugged driving. Bill’s daughter Keri Anne was killed by a drunk and drugged driver in October of 2015. Bill, his wife, and younger son were at the dinner, and we had a chance to talk and share memories of our children.
My heart is with Bill, his family and all the other victims in that room, and I will carry them in my heart forever. I hope they can take some comfort in knowing that MADD has been and always will be a place for them. Bless them in their sorrow.
And bless the law enforcement officers and first responders. Be safe out there. Protect yourselves, your partners and your brothers and sisters. Wear your vests, and always know that MADD has your back.
Not only do we have your back, we'd like to buy you lunch. MADD has asked restaurants across the country to join with us in recognizing law enforcement heroes by offering them a free lunch or dinner or, as we call it, a Blue Line Special. It's our way of honoring their "labors" as they begin to ramp up for a busy Labor Day Weekend. I personally invite all law enforcement officers to join us Wednesday, August 31st. I ask all restaurant owners to open their doors, and I hope everyone comes out to offer their support.
Hear from MADD Colorado Difference Maker Jen Clouse as she shares how one of the first families she served has progressed along their healing journey - and how that personally impacted her and her efforts to support victims.
She originally shared this during a MADD staff meeting. At MADD, we often begin meetings with a brief story about a victim or survivor. We call these "Mission Moments," and they remind us of why we do what we do - and why we don't stop until we end drunk driving.
By Jennifer Clouse
Lead Victim Services Specialist
I wanted to share a moment I had recently with a couple named Mike and Stacey Jones.
They were the first new case I got when I started at MADD in 2012, and they have been with us ever since. Their son, Daniel Michael Jones, was a student at the University of Colorado. He was pursuing a degree in in Environmental Engineering, but he had recently discovered a passion and a talent for drawing and painting. I’ve seen his art, and it's incredible.
On the evening of May 26, 2012 Daniel was driving home. It was Memorial Day weekend. Coming from the opposite direction was a 24-year-old driver, who was impaired by drugs and alcohol. Speeding more than 100mph, he crossed the median and hit Daniel head on. Both cars were engulfed in flames; both young men were killed.
When MADD CEO Debbie Weir visited the Colorado office recently, we talked about this family, and Debbie brought up the idea of getting a Portrait for Healing done for the family. The portrait of Daniel arrived last week, and it was beautiful.
I met up with Mike and Stacey at a golf tournament they hold every year to fund the scholarship they started in Daniel's name. The portrait was a surprise for them, and their reactions to this surprise filled my heart. Stacey brought her hand over her mouth, and she started crying.
Then, she touched the drawing of Daniel's face as if it was actually his face. I looked over at Mike. He is a big teddy bear of a guy. There were tears at the corner of his eyes, and he put his head down. Mike said his son's name, “Daniel" - just like we do when MADD honors victims and survivors.
Before going to the golf tournament, I had been feeling overwhelmed with the heaviness of what we do, but, after watching them receive this portrait, I felt lighter. It of course reminded me of why we do what we do and how we make a difference.
But beyond that, it reminded me of the gift that our victim families bring to our organization.
They bring something that cannot be quantified. For me personally, Mike and Stacey gave me a memory I will cherish. The next time I am feeling overwhelmed and heavy, I will remember the look in Stacey's eyes when she looked at the drawing of her son. I will remember the gentle way she touched the picture and cried. I will remember mike's tone of voice when he said Daniel's name. And I will remember how tightly they hugged me when I left.
I am so grateful that I got to be part of that moment with them. And I am also grateful that I was able to share that moment with everyone at the staff meeting.
This Labor Day weekend, when so many law enforcement officials and first responders will be working so hard to prevent more tragic drunk driving deaths, let us thank them for their labors.
In the last decade, more than 600 police officers have lost their lives in traffic fatalities, making it the number one cause of officer deaths. Every day and night, these officers work to protect us, even when it calls for the ultimate sacrifice.
So, this month, we’re asking restaurants big and small in all 50 states to open their doors Wednesday August 31st to provide a meal to law enforcement officers and all first responders in recognition of their efforts to keep our roads safe.
Let us make this a moment to unite in gratitude, to celebrate our communities and those who protect it, and to unanimously say in one voice, “We know your job isn't easy, and we can't say thank you enough.” Check here to see if your favorite restaurant has already joined with us or invite them to participate today.
If you are a restaurant owner, will you put your own Blue Line Special on the menu for one day? Discover how you can take part in this community-building event here.
MADD recognizes the critical role law enforcement officers play in ending drunk driving. In fact, supporting active, visible law enforcement efforts is a major part of our three-pronged blueprint for ending this criminal behavior, along with advanced technology and ignition interlocks. Supporting sobriety checkpoints, providing victim notification training, and recognizing the heroes who put their lives on the line every shift are just part of the ways MADD supports the law enforcement and first responder community.
We have so many lessons to impart to our children.
Eat your vegetables. Keep your hands to yourself. Treat others as you wish to be treated.
And, most importantly, be safe. Please, above all, be safe, we tell them without always providing the necessary, actionable information to do so, especially when it comes to alcohol.
Telling them to be safe just isn’t enough then.
Talking to your child about not drinking until 21 years of age becomes even more difficult thanks to a culture complacent about drunk driving, advertising that targets teens, and peer pressure.
That’s why MADD developed its Power of Parents® program, which aims to put the information and strategies that work to prevent underage drinking directly in a parent’s hand.
When we started the program, we had quite a lot to say.
MADD’s Power of Parents handbooks provide you the tools needed to start talking with your teens and middle schoolers about this important topic. By reading these handbooks and following their guidelines, you can substantially reduce the chance your son or daughter will drink before the age of 21.
While the information and tactics remain valid, we understand the handbooks take a little time to plow through and may cover more topics than a parent needs at that moment.
That’s why we are proud to share the creation of customized, bite-sized topical guides, each focused on a specific topic related to preventing underage drinking. Sponsored by the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association, the guides will serve as quick reads that deliver a punch of just-the-right information and strategies.
The first topical guide, Your Teen’s World, will publish this summer. It will still include the insightful and highly useful data gathered by Dr. Robert Turrisi, whose groundbreaking research on teens and alcohol consumption continues to shatter drinking myths.
Next, this fall, we will share Parenting Styles, an in-depth examination of various parenting styles and the impact it has on whether a child drinks underage or not.
Talking About Alochol will publish sometime near the winter holidays. This guide will provide you with real, concrete tools to talk with your teen in a manner that gets through to them!
These shorter, more focused guides will make it possible for parents to receive just the information needed for specific topic at hands.
We look forward to sharing our new guides with you. Find out more about our Power of Parents here.
MADD featured Kellie Murphy Wheatley as one of our Voices of Victims last month.
These posts spotlight a gone, but not forgotten, drunk or drugged driving victim or survivor. Supporting drunk and drugged driving victims is a pillar of our orgazniation and a part of the mission we are so grateful to perform.
The family also took part in our Portraits for Healing campaign, receiving a hand-drawn sketch of their daughter. After receiving the picture, the family took a moment to recognize the artist, Bill Small.
We were so touched to know we had assisted the family in their personal healing journey. We are moved to share the note below.
We are so proud to have the opportunity to share a little bit of Kellie, and her parents George and Marilyn, with you.
Heavy rains today in our Jacksonville, Illinois community. I went to the mailbox about 11:00 a.m. and on my front porch was a large flat package from you. Luckily the mailman put this package where it was out of the weather…and dry! Most of my mail goes into the box mounted on a post in the yard!
I had been anticipating your gift to our family by way of our MADD National Office after the recent blog Nakeshia Harrell put together in memory of our daughter, Kellie, who was killed July 4, 1984 by the town drunk only a few blocks from our home. Kellie was 24 years old, and she left a husband, a 14 month-old son, an older brother and a devastated mom & dad. I can’t tell you how many friends Kellie had who still miss her, as we do.
The portrait is absolutely breath-taking and the two (2) additional print copies are greatly appreciated. We will display this portrait with pride and think of you and your kindness to victims of impaired driving crashes. Time does not heal all, and broken hearts are difficult to mend. Our lives go on, and we cope with the tragedy of the most preventable crime in America…..impaired driving!
Maybe our paths will cross again as we were together at the MADD National Conference in D.C. last June. Victims are able to continue a “normal” life after tragedy with the help of people like you. The cemetery is a terrible place to visit your only daughter….a lonely place with a one-sided conversation.
We’ll keep working to prevent other moms & dads from receiving the “knock-on-the-door” like we received 32 years ago telling us of the death of our Kellie. Such a senseless loss of life…..
Thanking you and appreciated,
George and Marilyn Murphy