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.
Finding MADD, being understood, being able to express my feelings, finding someone who would listen, someone willing to listen to my intense feelings, finding a group to walk me through the complexities of the judiciary system... this is what helped me overcome the emotional and physical turmoil of becoming a victim.
My son Dustin was killed by a drunk and drugged driver. The crime that took his life, like every other drunk or drugged driving crash, was 100% preventable.
With time and effort, I actually began to be able function again. You are never totally healed, but that was not my goal… my goal was to survive. And part of the survival came from serving as a volunteer on MADD’s Help Line.
I had a common experience with those who called during my shift. I knew their trauma. I had suffered, as had they. To let them know that they are not alone helped reinforced that I am not alone either.
Our Help Line is a supportive network that gives families hope and emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Each volunteer is an advocate and a resource in guiding others to additional help. My experience as a volunteer on the Help Line was a privilege and an honor. I was able to share my knowledge with others and share my compassion at the same time.
This month marks 10 years since we started the Help Line. In honor of that anniversary, please consider making a donation to help ensure that we can continue providing this lifeline to those in need.
As MADD celebrates our 35 anniversary, MADD Rhode Island’s Youth Leadership Training, also known as Teen Spirit, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. And last week, I had the honor of speaking at the closing session of their four-day event for more than 200 high school students who were selected as leaders in their communities from all across the Ocean State.
The event was featured sessions on alcohol and drugs, safe driving, seat belts, public speaking, prevention, creating DUI public service announcements and personal commitments. They had some fun too… an ice cream social, a dance party, even creating chants and songs. (And don’t think that the staff didn’t join in.)
One parent with whom I spoke afterward told me that she was confident her daughter would attend next year. She said her daughter was a little shy in the beginning, but when she only called once to say hello, she knew she was having fun, learning, and meeting new lifelong friends.
It was a day I will remember for quite some time….the faces, the smiles, the energy, the enthusiasm and the hugs.
The Rhode Island Teen Spirit 2015 showed me that the leaders of tomorrow are here today… and Rhode Island will have a safer future because of them.