On Mother's Day weekend, 1996, Phaedra, age 22, a preschool teacher who had also done some modeling on the side, was enjoying a concert with some friends not far from her hometown. The two car loads of youth who were completely sober were driving home in Morgan County, Missouri, as a misty rain began to fall. Unbeknownst to them, a drunk driver with a .08 BAC was heading their way as he crossed the center line of Highway 5. Phaedra's friends in the car in front managed to see him in time to swerve. The drunk driver clipped them and headed straight for Phaedra's car. As he topped the hill around a curve, she had no warning and he hit her nearly head-on.
Phaedra's injuries were numerous and life-threatening. At the hospital, doctors discovered that the impact of the crash had ripped her aortic valve from her heart. Most people would have died within minutes, but Phaedra had not. In an emergency surgery to repair it, surgeons struggled to stop the bleeding. They quickly realized that she would bleed to death on the operating table if something wasn't done immediately. So, to save her life, they cut off the blood flow to her lower extremities to slow the bleeding enough to make the repairs to her heart.
She spent 3 weeks in a coma and 5 1/2 weeks on life support before waking to learn that the decision to save her life had cost her the ability to walk. In addition, she also had plates in her arm and both legs due to both ankles, a left femur, and a right forearm being broken. Her pelvis had been broken on both sides as well as 4 ribs. Both lungs had collapsed and her liver had been lacerated. Her gallbladder, appendix, and spleen were damaged and all had to be removed.
Phaedra's son was 4 years old at the time of the crash. She missed his first day of kindergarten because she was still in the hospital. As he grew up, someone else taught him to ride a bike, played in the ocean waves with him, and rode roller coasters with him while she sat on the sidelines and cheered, quietly wishing she could be the one beside him.
In 2000, Phaedra began working for MADD Missouri. She became a Victim Specialist helping other victims by providing emotional support and guidance through court proceedings. In 2010, she was crowned Ms. Wheelchair USA, again bringing awareness to the dangers of drunk driving by choosing it as her official platform. In 2012, she moved to Tennessee as the Underage Drinking Specialist for the MADD Tennessee state office. She built the program up from a presence that was non-existent to the top program in the country, talking to thousands of teens annually about the dangers of underage drinking and sharing her story with kids, parents, and DUI offenders.
Phaedra's original scars may have healed, but the impact of a DUI crash lasts for a lifetime. With no spleen, Phaedra is more susceptible to illness and her immune system is unable to fight simple infections. An ear infection can end up in a hospital stay. Independent and resolute, Phaedra drives, works full time, and is now the mother to an 8 year old daughter, as well as her grown son and step-daughter. People are amazed at how she lifts her wheelchair overhead, in and out of her car, and is not deterred from anything she sets her mind to doing. However, her determination takes its toll on her body. She recently had to have surgery on her arm because a problem with one of the plates had caused a fracture in her arm. Because she is constantly lifting her chair and transferring herself in and out of it, the injury to her arm caused a significant hardship on her ability to proceed with life as normal. And because of her immunity problem, the healing process was also complicated.
But those who know Phaedra, know that despite the lifelong affect drunk driving has had on her life, the thing that stands out most about her is her positive attitude. She never waivers. For years, she has fought to serve others who have been impacted by the crimes of drunk and drugged driving and underage drinking and to spread awareness about their dangers by sharing her story. She is an inspiration to all! And she will continue to fight until MADD fulfills it's vision of No More Victims!
By Dr. Gloria Horsley, an internationally known grief expert and author. Gloria is the founder of the Open to Hope foundation.
Mother’s Day is a great time to honor our own mothers, as well as ourselves as mothers. However, for those who have suffered a loss this day can be bitter sweet.
The death of a mother can make one feel a sense of abandonment, while a bereaved parent may feel a sense of failure because they were not able to protect their children. As a society, we have always put heavy expectations on mothers. One of my favorite writers was the late Erma Bombeck, whose brand humor was spot on regarding motherhood. Below is a quote from her book, When God Created Mothers.
“And God said, Have you read the specs on this order? She has to be completely washable, but not plastic. Have 180 moveable parts...all replaceable. Run on black coffee and leftovers. Have a lap that disappears when she stands up. A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair. And six pairs of hands."
If you identify with these overwhelming expectations and Mother’s Day is a down-day for you, a day that brings sadness rather than joy or hope, I suggest you follow the advice of my friend Byron Katie, creator of The Work, and take the opportunity this Mother’s Day to “Mother Yourself.”
Start the day by looking in the mirror and saying, “I am a special person, one of a kind, and today is my day.” Then, do something that brings you joy or just helps you get through the day.
Below are a few things to get you started.
1. Have a bubble bath – I like the balls that fizz in the hot water.
2. Read a good book or magazine – I like to curl up with Vanity Fair.
3. Listen to some music that is uplifting – Elvis makes me smile.
4. Cut yourself some slack- Remind yourself that you did the best you could at the time.
5. Don’t buy into the idea that there is or ever was a “perfect mother.”
6. Let others serve you on this day – No cooking for yourself.
7. Get some light exercise – Go for a walk or take a restorative yoga class.
8. Spend time in nature or attending church services.
9. Do accept the appreciation of family members especially your children.
Remember that Mother’s Day is only one day. Be prepared that the days leading up to any anniversary or holiday can be more stressful than the actual day. Let others know if it is a dreaded day for you so they can help out.
Open to Hope
Wow! MADD supporters make for great photographers!
The early submissions to our Destinations Reached 2017 Calendar Contest highlight beaches, deserts, puppies, and more! Voting is now open, and we can't wait to see how next year's calendar is coming together.
At MADD, we often face the tragic and senseless in our efforts to support victims and end drunk driving. This is our mission, and we are committed to success. However, sometimes you need to focus on the positive. So, the calendar contest is one way to focus on the trips, vacations, and staycations were everyone arrived alive and happy. We use the calendars throughout the year to support our Campaign to Elliminate Drunk Driving®.
Before you check out these incredible submissions, don't forget to submit your own! Then, ask your friends and family to vote for your picture. The top 12 will be selected for the 2017 MADD calendar.
|Our very first submission was a bird's eye view.|
|Not sure where this was taken, but that's where our next vacation needs to take place! Beautiful!|
|A nighttime view makes every city look peaceful.|
|This pictures just says it all about the vacation - driving down a desert highway on a powerful machine!|
|Any city with architecture/art like this joins the list of must-see locations.|
|Who can relax and enjoy time off better than dogs? Well, cats, of course, but these two are adorable.|
|Not sure this counts as relaxing or vacation, but it's an amazing image.|
By MADD National Board Member Heather Geronemus
I'm honored to serve on the National Board of Mothers Against Drunk Diving. I came to MADD out of necessity and not by choice. It's out of gratitude for the services, the love and support provided to me, and with conviction to create change that I serve this organization on the local, state, and now National level.
Many of the people that serve with me are also victims. Many of them are industry leaders who are compelled to serve and help us move our mission forward. It's an honor to sit at the table with each and every one of these individuals who choose to spend their time and talent to create a future of no more victims.
As a board and an organization we will stay laser focused on the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, seeking to get ignition interlocks for first-time offenders passed in all 50 states. Meanwhile, I want every person out there to know that they have the power to end drunk driving too.
When your plans include drinking always include plans for a non-drinking designated driver. This is how you can create change, choosing person by person to make a difference and save a life, possibly your own.