MADD’s Power of Parents® and Power of You(th)® programs are just what they say in their titles… filled with “power.” Parents and peers are the most important influencers children have. I know that all too well, because our son Dustin made a fateful decision to get into a car that was driven by someone underage and under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
The night he died, he was sober and was wearing his seat belt. However, as a teenager, he was either too young and inexperienced to make a better decision or didn’t realize the extent of the driver’s impairment.
As a parent, I had conversations with Dustin about the very situation that killed him. We had talked about never drinking under the age of 21, about never drinking and driving, and never getting into a car driven by someone who had been. Most of Dustin’s friends were non-drinkers… but not the person driving the car on this night.
The power of the parent was overcome by the power of the youth; a person who regretfully showed no remorse for her actions. That’s why the right message coming from both parents and youth is so important.
So, as someone who has lost a child, I encourage parents to continue to talk to their children early and often about the dangers of drinking and about riding with someone who has.
I also want to encourage teenagers to give their friends the same message they’re hearing from their parents. I know now Dustin’s friends wish they had given that message to him so he could be with us today.
Real friends should be talking with each other about NOT drinking alcohol before the age of 21, about NOT drinking and driving and about NOT
getting into a car with an impaired driver. Protect your friends – empower each other to take a stand.
Today’s social norms have to be changed – drinking and driving is a violent crime. Let’s encourage our kids to talk to their friends about the risks of riding with someone who is drinking. Your friendship won’t be harmed – in fact…I believe it will be strengthened.
I love the opportunity to travel throughout the country and meet with the great people who support Mothers Against Drunk Driving. However, sometimes the travel isn’t easy. On my recent trip to Virginia, I had a flight cancelled, forcing me to take Uber from Newark Airport to LaGuardia, then have my flight delayed for hours, arriving in Virginia Beach minutes before the event. But it was worth it.
Nearly 200 people gathered at the Founder’s Inn in Virginia Beach for a MADD Law Enforcement Recognition event. It’s always an honor for me to talk to these heroes and present them with awards for their service. These are the men and women who have boots on the ground 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to help keep drunk drivers off the road.
Success and awards aren’t only measured in the arrests that are made, but also in the lives that are saved and the injuries that are prevented. And all this is often is accomplished at the risk of the lives of these officers. I talked about that to the honorees, their families and their friends… and thanked all of them for what they do.
Thank you Virginia for your work advancing MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®. Someday, there truly will be NO MORE VICTIMS. By the way, I only had one flight delayed on the way back, but have wonderful memories to keep forever.
September 5th marks the 35th Anniversary of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. We’ve come a long way since 1980, but still have a way to go until there are NO MORE VICTIMS™. Before MADD was founded, more than 25,000 people were killed every year in drunk driving crashes. Since then, we’ve cut that number in half. And through the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® we plan to bring the number to 0.
We had a wonderful celebration of our 35th Anniversary in June at the MADD National Conference in Washington, DC. I was truly blessed by the opportunity to meet and get to know so many of the past presidents. Their hard work has helped us bring us to where we are today. They inspired me to work even harder. Here’s a look at MADD’s history through the lens of the national president...
I’m honored to follow in the footsteps of these incredible leaders, and inspired by their efforts. Each of them has had such a lasting impact on MADD. They’ve accomplished so much that has made MADD the organization it is today and makes it possible for us to continue that progress.
But the biggest inspiration to all of us is YOU. From one end of the country to another, the energy and determination of thousands of volunteers and staff is making a difference. People are alive today because of you. The conscience of the country about drunk driving is different because of you. Laws are being passed because of you.
Don’t give up. We haven’t reached the finish line yet. But if all of us keep working together, one day we can rest, because there will be NO MORE VICTIMS.
During a recent trip to Savannah, Georgia, I was amazed by the turnout of more than 400 state and local first responders at the Georgia Highway Safety Conference. The mission of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, “…to educate the public on traffic safety and facilitate the implementation of programs that reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities on Georgia roadways,” lines up perfectly with our goals at MADD.
MADD’s focus is drunk driving, with education, awareness and enforcement being key components. I had a chance to talk about that in my speech, as well as discuss our common goals with some of the first responders who attended the event. It was also a pleasure to talk with Georgia Congressman Buddy Carter, Savannah Mayor Edna Branch Jackson and Director Harris Blackwood of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, who spoke of their appreciation of the attendees’ constant work toward making the roadways safer.
It was encouraging to see Georgia’s continued movement toward safer roadways, having been nationally recognized for their “Click it or Ticket” and “Operation Zero Tolerance” campaigns.
You can help make roadways safer in your state by supporting your law enforcement officers and first responders, and by telling your legislative representatives about the importance of stronger laws.
Please help MADD in the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® so there will be No More Victims™.
Serving as MADD’s National President, I get the opportunity to attend special events across the country, like the recent Walk Like MADD in Denver, Colorado. It’s one of the largest and most successful Walks— more than $114,000 was raised at this year’s event!
Supporters like the Bachus & Schanker Law firm have stood by us for nine years as the Statewide Sponsor. Mickey Kay, the chair of our state advisory board single-handedly raised more than $7,000 on his own, while his team added another $3,000.
The community support for the 10th annual event was uplifting. Sloan’s Lake Park was filled with tents, games, Pom Cheerleaders from Cherry Creek, hundreds of people, and lots of love. Making the event even more special was the arrival of AirLife Denver, a medical helicopter transport that is always ready when needed. Getting a chance to sit in the chopper was exciting for the kids… and a few adults too.
I was able to spend time at the event with my brother Chris and his family, who live in Denver. We remembered my son Dustin who was killed by a drunk driver. At events like these, my goal is to remember all the victims and survivors, inspire others to help MADD, empower volunteers to continue to raise awareness of the dangers of drunk driving, and to remain committed until there are NO MORE VICTIMS™.
I wish I could attend all of the walks across the country. If I have the chance to come to your state, I hope we meet, talk and give each other a hug. I look forward to listening to your story and hearing why you choose to Walk Like MADD.