It was an honor to attend this year’s Lifesavers National Conference on Highway Safety Priorities in Long Beach, California. I meet so many men and women, who are on the front lines every day keeping us safe. The gathering of state and local highway safety officials, police officers and other first responders, private and non-profit program providers, students, academicians, and others made the three-day event the largest gathering of highway safety professionals in the United States.
At the opening session, I had the opportunity to speak to more than 2,000 attendees about Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the personal tragedy of having our son Dustin killed by a drunk driver. I also moderated a victim impact panel. There were dozens of workshops covering a variety of topics. Each one I attended was engaging and enlightening.
Speakers at the event included Administrator Mark R. Rosekind from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joseph A. Farrow, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety President Adrian Lund, and Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency Brian Kelly. Our own, although now retired, National Law Enforcement Initiative Manager Carl McDonald was honored at the Public Service Awards Luncheon.
I was impressed to see the dedication and caring of the attendees, knowing how hard they work to make the county a safer place to live. As someone remarked at the opening session – they are the “guardians of good.” It also encouraged me to know that they are working with us each day toward our goal of NO MORE VICTIMS®.
#Lifesavers2016 took off on Twitter, and I was excited to see my story made a difference. Here are a just a few of the comments:
Hopefully, warm weather will be moving into the northern part of the country soon, and people will switch from boots to sneakers to begin to Walk Like MADD. Recently, I attended a Walk Like MADD Kickoff Party kickoff at a Dave & Buster’s Restaurant in Westbury, New York.
MADD’s New York Executive DirectorRich Mallow is gearing up for several Walk Like MADD events in his state this year, including the Long Island Walk Like MADD May 14th.
|Spelling out the ultimate goal - A future with No More Victims®||President Colleen Sheehey-Church with some of the law enforcement officers she met.|
At the kickoff, we heard from Long Island resident and MADD New York volunteer Dawn Nappi. She told the story of her beautiful daughter Angelica, who was only 14 years of age when she was killed by an impaired driver. It was an emotional reminder of why we were there that night, why we walk, and why we need donations to continue the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® so that one day there will be NO MORE VICTIMS®.
Geico, Live Nation, Uber, Estee, Ridgewood Savings, New York Auto Giant, Offices of John Fazzini and Nationwide Insurance sponsor Walk Like MADD Long Island. All across the country, sponsors make it possible to have Walk Like MADD events to honor our loved ones – and we are forever grateful.
This year, I’m looking forward to attending several more Walks across the country. It will give me an opportunity to meet many victims and volunteers and to walk in remembrance of my son Dustin, who was killed by a drunk driver. I walk to remember Dustin, I walk to inspire and empower others, and to let them know that there is hope, and I walk to show my commitment to ending drunk driving.If you’ve attended a powerful Walk Like MADD event, please tell me about it in the comments below.
Dear MADD Supporter,
While most people have been focusing on San Francisco because of the Super Bowl, I was there the week before the big game for another important gathering… a candlelight vigil honoring and remembering those who lost their lives to drunk and drugged driving.
Survivor Steve Domenick with MADD National
MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church
Singer/Songwriter James Nagel performed
About 100 people came to the Cliff House, an iconic building on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, to share stories and memories of their loved ones senselessly killed. The historic landmark, where more than 30 ships crashed onto the southern shore of the Golden Gate, seemed a fitting location to honor and remember the
friends and family members we have lost.
MADD Bay Area Program Director Natasha Thomas, MADD National Board Member Mary Klotzbach, and I told our stories and shared messages of hope with victims, volunteers, the California Highway Patrol, San Francisco Sheriffs, and first responders.
I met a survivor named Steven, who was just seconds from his home when a drunk driver t-boned his car, killing his wife instantly and severely injuring him. After several months of recovery in the hospital, Steven now lives with a traumatic brain injury that will never heal. He has lost everything in his life that meant anything, but it is his passion for MADD that I will remember. Steven and his wife will be in my heart forever.
Another experience I will remember for years to come was listening to singer/songwriter James Nagel, a Bay area native whose rendition of “Tears In Heaven” left everyone present a little teary eyed. This event, like so many other events, renewed my commitment to MADD’s mission. I will continue this fight for them and many others until there are NO MORE VICTIMS! That is my promise to you.
Like many MADD affiliates, the San Francisco MADD Bay Area is small, but they are mighty! The hearts and souls of the staff and volunteers are big. Since opening that area, they have made an impact in the area by continually growing the number of victims supported and continuing the mission to end drunk and drugged driving.
I want to thank Domenica Cardenas for her energy in putting the vigil together and giving the final remarks about the love for her Dad, who was killed before Father's Day in 2013 by a drunk driver.
Thank you San Francisco Bay Area......until I see you again....I honor all you do.
The New York Stock Exchange honored MADD and helped us “ring” out our 35th Anniversary year of saving lives and serving victims by inviting the organization to ring the opening bell for the world’s largest exchange December 30th, 2015.
MADD staff, volunteers, and board members from Connecticut, New Jersey and New York joined me on the platform overlooking the floor as I pushed the button that rang the bell on all floors. MADD joined a prominent list of business and community leaders, celebrities, and others who’ve participated in this honor. And, as requests to take part in this historic tradition are often scheduled a year out, I was especially proud the NYSE selected MADD on such an important anniversary for our organization.
Our host Garvis Toler made all of us feel at home from the moment we arrived. Before we rang the bell, he presented us with a medallion to commemorate the day. Our experience in New York City was the perfect way to ring out the old year and ring in the new. Our goal, however, remains the same…to end drunk driving so there are No More Victims™.