Moving Among Heroes

Walking among thousands of law enforcement officers last week at the International Association of Chiefs of Police, IACP, Convention I felt safe and inspired.  I was continuously impressed with their sincere commitment to doing their very best.   Carl McDonald, MADD’s Law Enforcement Initiative Coordinator and Carly’s dad, has represented our mission among these committed servants for several years.

Sitting in as a new member of their Victim Services Committee, I was particularly impressed that they don’t just talk the talk but they have their sleeves rolled up and are working on ways to supporting victims of crime instead of merely treating them as sources of evidence.  The committee chairman summarized the importance of victim services with, “We need to remember that we are peace officers first and law enforcement second.”

This is an amazing group of individuals and I am so proud of our partnership with the Heroes Who Make Our Roads Safe.

Carl McDonald and Jan Withers

I flew from one assembly of champions to Boston, Massachusetts, where I was privileged to join another group of superstars.   MADD is a mighty organization.   Part of our strength is the bond we share for our mission.  Everywhere I go I feel as though I am with family. I reconnected with an old friend, Matt Shedd, former board member.  Their daughter, Hillary, was killed by a drunk driver close to the time my daughter, Alisa, was killed.  Over tea we talked with Mary Kate DePampilis, who is the new Special Events Coordinator for MADD Massachusetts.  As we reminisced, she picked our brains for information.  By the end of the evening I believe she could also feel the “family” atmosphere. 

Mary Kate DePampilis and Matt Shedd

A very successful Lobby Day was the result of tremendous effort and expertise of David DeIuliis, Program Manager for MADD Massachusetts.  He is extremely skilled as well as a deeply compassionate individual.  Six years ago Melanie’s Law was established, requiring repeat convicted drunk drivers to have ignition interlocks on their vehicles for two years.  Thirteen-year-old Melanie Powell was walking to a birthday party with her friends when a repeat drunk driver killed her.   Her grandfather, Ron Bersani, worked tirelessly to get this law passed.  Now Senator Hedlund has sponsored a bill to require all convicted offenders to use ignition interlocks.  

Melanie’s mother - Nancy Powell, Ron Bersani, Jan Withers, David DeIuliis

Thanks to Dave’s tireless efforts we accomplished so much that day.  There was extensive media coverage, including some live interviews on news talk shows and we talked to several senators and their staff. 

Elizabeth Hopkins on Fox 25 Morning News

Here I was on Boston’s Beacon Hill, at the heart of the city where our forefathers first demanded their voices to be heard.    I found myself a bit in awe – that because of them, today we still have the freedom to expect our voices to count.    As we walked the halls of the historic State House, I was again inspired with the dedication of a few individuals who are relentless in their work to make positive change - to save lives. 

Ron Bersani gave a powerful and persuasive speech.