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Voices of Victims

Why We’re Here: Dalynaca Watrous
By MADD | December 1, 2014 | Filed in: Victim Stories

On December 19, 2008, 11-year-old Dalynaca Watrous had friends over for a sleepover. She was excited to be on holiday break and was looking forward to Christmas.

Dalynaca’s father took her and her three friends out to look at Christmas lights. But what should have been a festive evening turned tragic when a drunk driver crossed the centerline and hit their car head on at 55 mph. Dalynaca was killed. Her father was seriously injured, spending a month in the hospital. The other three children, ages 12, 11 and 9, had broken bones and one had a nearly severed tongue.

The drunk driver was released in time for Christmas. Dalynaca’s family buried her on Christmas Eve.

Every day for three years after Dalynaca’s death, her grandmother, Gloria Polesovsky, cried. She says, “I felt like I had been gut punched. Nothing has ever hurt so much. I just wanted to fix it. I visited Dalynaca’s grave every day for two and a half years.”

Tilde Bricker, a MADD victim advocate in Ohio, provided victim services to Dalynaca’s family, helping them navigate the legal system and provide a shoulder for them to lean on during the aftermath of this tragedy.

"It's not who IS there, it's that she's NOT."

Eventually, the man who killed Dalynaca and injured her father and young friends was sentenced to 14 years in prison. But her family is left with a lifetime of grief.

“I miss her laughter, her smile, her clumsiness, and the way she would call me daddy. Not just the holidays but every day that she is not here,” said Dalynaca’s father, Dennis Wilburn.

Losing Dalynaca has stopped many of the family get-togethers they used to have. “It's not who IS there, it's that she's NOT,” Gloria says.

For the holidays, Dalyanca’s grandmother doesn’t put up outdoor decorations anymore because Dalynaca was her helper, and last year was the first Christmas since her death that they had a tree. Now, they honor Dalynaca each Christmas by decorating her grave with flowers and snowmen, and angels.

This holiday season, please keep victims like Dalynaca in mind as you celebrate with friends and loved ones. Always plan ahead with a non-drinking designated driver and remind others to do the same. And make a donation now to help MADD stop drunk driving tragedies like the one that claimed 11-year-old Dalynaca’s life. Every gift will be matched by our friends at Nationwide, dollar for dollar, up to our goal of $200,000!

 Gloria Polesovsky, Dalynaca's grandmother, with Dalynaca's photo at this year's Tie One On For Safety kick-off event in Ohio.

Why We’re Here: Patti Foster
By MADD | November 3, 2014 | Filed in: Victim Stories

 Courtesy of Donna Cummings Photography

On June 18, 2002, Patti Foster and three other women were driving to their final Bible study of the summer. After the car she was traveling in came to a stop at a red light, Patti took off her seatbelt to check on the flowers that she was bringing everyone in the Bible study. At that moment, a drugged driver traveling at 70 miles per hour slammed into the back of their vehicle. The impact hurled Patti out of the car about three stories away until her body stopped in a lane of traffic.

Bystanders began to pray around her before a helicopter transported her to the Trauma ICU. Despite the all-night from the trauma team, Patti remained in a coma.

“If she does live, she’ll be a persistent vegetable,” the doctors told her family.

Six weeks later, Patti slowly began to wake up from her coma, but had many battles ahead of her. “When I began waking up, I had to re-learn every single basic function,” Patti said. “I couldn’t do anything on my own.” She credits her strength during this recovery process to the outpour of support from family and friends, and her steadfast faith.

Now, she is a motivational speaker as well as published in four books, in addition to her autobiography, entitled Coping with Traumatic Brain Injury. Most recently, her story was selected to be featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries.

Patti began writing after the crash as a way to continue healing. “Instead of becoming bitter, I’ve chosen to let it make me better and help others,” she says.

Patti’s story and positive outlook on life continues to inspire others around the world. “We don’t know how many moments we have left,” she says, “but while we have this moment may we choose to live it to the fullest.”

Patti volunteers with MADD East Texas and shares her story at Victim Impact Panels, school assemblies and other MADD presentations to help prevent others from experiencing the life-altering aftermath of a drunk or drugged driving crash that she had to endure.

Learn more about Patti on her website, www.pattifoster.com.


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