Sara Haiken Story

The Haiken family began volunteering with MADD New York in 2009 after a crash that hit too close to home, like many of our dedicated volunteers. A family friend and 43-year-old mother of two was killed on her way to her job at LaGuardia Airport in New York. The driver was uninjured and had two prior DUI convictions.

A middle school student at the time, Sara Haiken immediately saw the senselessness of the tragedy and vowed to do something about it. She began volunteering with her local MADD chapter and in 2012 – as a high school freshman – Sarah was selected to join MADD’s first-ever National Teen Influencer Group.

She and her mother, Cheryl, visited the MADD National Office, where Sarah took part in the teen review committee that helped shape what is now the cornerstone of MADD’s Power of You(th)® program – “The 411 on Teen Drinking” booklet. Since that time, Sarah has remained actively involved locally as well as nationally by returning to the National Teen Influencer Group each year. This year, Sarah is a senior and beginning her 4th year as an active member of the group. Not only has Sarah’s involvement with MADD grown over the years, but so has her family’s. Last year, her mother Cheryl became Chair of the MADD New York State Advisory Board.

Sarah is forever going above and beyond to participate in and expand MADD’s mission. This summer, she helped conduct a Power of You(th) training at MADD’s National Conference in Washington DC; conference attendees ranked this session in the top 5 for the entire conference.

Also this summer, Sarah contacted and requested an internship with Dr. Robert Turrisi at Pennsylvania State University, the lead researcher behind MADD’s Power of Parents program. Dr. Turrisi accepted Sarah into his program, in part due to her dedicated work with MADD.

As she undertakes her senior year of high school, Sarah has elected to become more involved in saving lives and preventing underage drinking by continuing to work through Pennsylvania State University. She will conduct her own research study this year under the supervision of Dr. Turrisi, focusing on the motivations behind high school students who are willing to ride with a drinking driver. Sarah will begin her research at the end of September and hopes to release her findings by the end of the school year.

What started as a teen coping with a tragic loss by reaching out to MADD has evolved into a young woman with a bright future and a true difference maker – inspiring her family, her community, and people across the country to create a future of No More Victims™!


Teen alcohol use kills about 4,700 people each year — more than all other illegal drugs combined. Teens have so much to look forward to – homecoming, graduation, pursuing a career, having a family and more. The choices teens make today will impact the rest of their lives.

Thanks to the support of National Presenting Sponsor State Farm Insurance®, MADD developed its Power of Youth® program to empower teens – individually and in groups – to influence each other, younger kids and even adults to take a stand against underage drinking, and to never ride with an impaired driver.

For the 2015 fall launch of Power of Youth, MADD asks teens to #ProtectUrFriends by talking to their peers about not drinking alcohol before turning 21, or getting in the car with an impaired driver. Teens can post a photo with their friends and use the hashtag #ProtectUrFriends to be a part of the conversation.

One important resource for teens is The 411 on Teen Drinking. This booklet contains useful information to help teens resist peer pressure, influence other teens to not drink before age 21 and never get in the car with someone who’s been drinking. From now until October 31, anyone who downloads the booklet will be entered to win weekly prizes and a grand prize, an Apple Watch Sport!

2015 Special Anniversary Edition MADDvocate

In honor of our 35th anniversary today, we are pleased to share with you our special 35th Anniversary Edition of MADDvocate.


In this issue, you’ll find compassionate and uplifting articles, including MADD Volunteers, Healing Hearts by Helping Others, the story of how three women turned their family tragedy into a passion to prevent drunk driving, Honoring Loved Ones, about new ways to honor victims and survivors, and much more.

This special edition of MADDvocate also includes an interactive timeline for MADD’s 35th Anniversary, as well as a update on MADD’s four mission prongs, some of the key highlights for each, and how they work together to create a future of No More Victims™.


Sponsored by:

Teen Spirit is Alive in Rhode Island

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.

New Report Shows Steady Decline in Underage Drinking

A new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows a significant decline in the level of underage alcohol consumption, as well as a drop in underage binge drinking.

The survey, which examined past month underage alcohol consumption over the years 2002 to 2013, found underage drinking among all U.S. residents from age 12 through 20 dropped by 21%. And underage binge drinking decreased by even more.

Despite this reduction, however, alcohol is still the drug of choice for teens. More people aged 12 to 20 currently use alcohol (22.7%) than use tobacco (16.9%) or illicit drugs (13.6%).

This once again supports the importance of parents talking to their kids about alcohol, early and often. Parental influence is the most important factor in helping keep kids safe, and MADD’s Power of Parents® program focuses on educating parents and caregivers about the dangers of underage drinking, and provides them the tools they need to talk with their kids about alcohol. Visit to download our Parent Handbook and get tips and tools to help you have this lifesaving conversation about alcohol with your kids.

The study also reinforces that despite what teens may think, when it comes to drinking, not everybody is doing it.  In fact, more than two out of three teens DON’T drink alcohol.

This is an especially important message this time of year. With more free time and potentially less supervision during summer vacation, kids may find themselves in situations that involve alcohol. It is important for teens to know that drinking is dangerous, illegal and not necessary to fit in. Our teen booklet, the 411 on Teen Drinking, contains useful information to help teens resist peer pressure, influence other teens to not drink before age 21 and never get in the car with someone who’s been drinking. Click here to download this free booklet for teens.

The report, Underage Drinking Declined Between 2002 and 2013 is based on SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health report, an annual national survey of 67,500 Americans aged 12 and older.  For a copy of the full report go to:

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