Looking Back, Looking Forward

From kicking off Power Talk 21® in Houston, sharing the stage with the National Football League at two universities in Ohio... to recognizing Law Enforcement at an event in Atlanta, Georgia... to attending in a similar gathering in Long Island, New York... to meeting with government officials in a variety of states... I’ve had a busy and very rewarding few weeks! 

Delanie Walker at Hiram College

It was an honor to get to know Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker as he shared the story of his Aunt Peaches and Uncle Bryan who were killed by a drunk driver shortly after they left the Super Bowl to watch Delanie played. The Hiram College students were definitely impacted. Delanie is truly an authentic MADD family member.

With Juan De La Garza

The National Kick-off event for Power Talk 21, held in Houston, Texas, featured Houston Mayor Annise Parker and MADD volunteer Juan De La Garza, whose sister Alejandra was killed by a drunk driver.  Power Talk 21 is directed at the parents of teenagers to help with the discussion of the dangers of underage drinking.  I met Alejandra’s son (now without a mom) and could only think about what might have been.

Atlanta Law Enforcement Recognition Awards

In Atlanta, Georgia, and then in Long Island, New York, hundreds of law enforcement officers were recognized for their efforts in keeping drunk drivers off the roads.  It is their dedication and their constant hard work that gives me great hope that someday drunk driving will be eliminated.

With Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus

I also had the opportunity to meet with legislators in several states, including Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus, as MADD continues to work toward laws that will require ignition interlock devices for ALL offenders. As we moved toward passing all-offender IID laws in each state, we will be using the best technology we have in the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®.

As I said, it’s been an incredibly busy few weeks, but it has been my honor to meet MADD volunteers and supporters across the country and hear their stories and see their impact. I look forward to meeting many more of you as we continue our work to save lives and serve victims.

The Most Important Conversation

Each April, MADD focuses on communications between parents and their kids through PowerTalk 21 – the national day to talk about the dangers of underage drinking. Even now as I think about it, I only wish I had a chance to talk to my son Dustin again about anything—school, sports or even the dangers of underage drinking. But he was killed by an underage drunk and drugged driver when he was only 18.

If you have a son or daughter in middle school or high school, please join us this April and start ( or continue!) the conversation about alcohol... Your kids are listening! Parents are the number one influence on their child’s decisions about alcohol. What you say does make a difference. 

To help you prepare for PowerTalk 21 day,  MADD will host “21 Days in Support of 21” from April 1st through the 21st, offering tips, tools and activities online to help parents and caregivers start potentially lifesaving conversations about alcohol with their kids. (Make sure to follow along by liking us on Facebook and subscribing to our blog feed!)

In addition, on April 21st, MADD will offer a free 15-minute virtual workshop on the best ways to talk with kids about the dangers of underage drinking so that they really listen, using research-based tips and tools. Register now for this free webinar.

It is so important that we – parents, grandparents, caretakers, guardians, aunts and uncles –reach out to our kids early and often. Please join us for PowerTalk 21. Having this conversation with your child may be the most important one you ever have.

As I travel across the country this April, and look into the eyes of the students I will meet, I will see your children, and my Dustin, and hope that together, we can change the minds of many and save lives along the way.

Jan Withers Receives NHTSA Public Service Award at Lifesavers Conference

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) presented 12 individuals and organizations with NHTSA Public Service Awards at this year’s 33rd Annual Lifesavers Conference. The awards recognizes the tireless efforts and outstanding contributions an individual makes to improve highway safety throughout the country.

This year, former MADD National President Jan Withers was recognized for her tireless efforts to encourage tougher legislation across the United States, her service as a victim advocate and her tenure as MADD National President.

Congratulations Jan, and thank you for all you do to save lives and serve victims!

Administrator Mark Rosekind and Jan Withers

A Busy Start to Our 35th Anniversary Year

It’s been a busy start to our 35th Anniversary year. State Legislatures are in session around the country and many are considering stronger laws concerning drunk and drugged driving. During the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with lawmakers in Colorado, Kentucky and Pennsylvania – with more states to come. It’s a wonderful opportunity to share the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® with those who can help make it happen.

It is also given me the chance to meet with people like you who support MADD with their time, their effort and their money.  Each one left a lasting impression that I won’t soon forget.

I’ll remember the victims I met. In Kentucky, I’ll remember MADD National Teen Influencer group Alex Otto and her story of how she suffered a brain injury and lost her leg in a boating crash caused by a drunk boater. In Pennsylvania, I’ll remember the parents of Fire Chief Rodney Paul Miller who was killed in the line of duty by a drunk driver.

I’ll also remember the volunteers and supporters. In Colorado, I had the opportunity to meet and thank Darin Schanker for the thousands of hours and dollars his law firm has donated to MADD. In Kentucky, I was amazed at the incredible devotion of MADD’s victim services staff.

I’ll remember each and every face of the victims, the volunteers, the legislators and the donors. Like you, they are on the front line in the fight against drunk driving – supporting our law enforcement officers as they battle drunk and drugged driving 24/7, asking their representatives to pass stronger laws and telling their stories to others so that they will understand the devastation that is caused by these violent crimes.

It’s an honor for me to have the opportunity to see all of you at work and I can’t thank you enough. Together, we WILL eliminate drunk driving.

Meet MADD’s New National President

Thirty-five years after a grieving mother started one of the most influential and effective grassroots movements in history, we’re pleased to announce our new National President, Colleen Sheehey-Church, the first victim of drugged driving to serve as MADD’s National President.

Colleen’s 18-year-old son, Dustin, drowned after the car he was riding in, driven by a teen with alcohol and drugs in her system, crashed into a river, trapping Dustin in the vehicle. She joined MADD a year later in 2005.  Read Dustin’s story here.

“No one ever dreams about becoming MADD’s National President, because it means that you have suffered the most unimaginable pain of a death or injury due to the preventable crime of drunk or drugged driving,” says Sheehey-Church. “I was drowning in grief after I lost my son, until I called MADD. I only wished I had called sooner. I’m honored and humbled to represent the victims we couldn’t save, stand alongside those we have and advocate to keep innocent lives safe on our nation’s roadways.”

Read Colleen’s first blog post as MADD’s National President.

Read Colleen’s bio.

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