For the past 9 years, MADD Virginia has enjoyed the support of Alpha Sigma Alpha’s Beta Epsilon chapter, located at James Madison University.
Over this time the sisters of ASA Beta Epsilon have worked diligently and passionately to spread the message of eliminating drunk driving by designating a driver and refusing to get behind the wheel after drinking, a message of particular import in their own environment: the college campus.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly 60% of college students between the ages of 18 and 22 partake in alcohol consumption in a given month (1). And each year, about 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 25 die from unintentional alcohol-related injuries, including drunk driving (1). As stated by Amelia Arria, Director of the University Of Maryland Center on Young Adult Health and Development, “nearly half of underage students with access to a car drove after having anything to drink, and one in five drove while intoxicated” (2). Clearly this is an issue that needs attention, and what better group to tackle it than a vibrant group of sorority sisters, from within the walls of a prominent University? Enter JMU’s own Alpha Sigma Alpha chapter.
As members of Greek life, most sorority and fraternity members choose an organization as their philanthropy. For ASA Beta Epsilon, this organization is MADD VA. Over the past 9 years, ASA has raised over $63,380 and counting for MADD VA, and has registered over 1,000 walkers in our yearly Walk Like MADD 5k fundraisers. In addition to participating in MADD’s own fundraisers and events, the sisters at JMU’s ASA chapter hold their own fundraising and awareness event each year called Madison MADDness, a March Madness style basketball tournament that promotes the MADD mission among their college peers.
Breanna Hughes, JMU Junior and current Vice President of ASA Beta Epsilon said, “Drunk driving is an epidemic on the rise and we need to do all we can to prevent any further tragedies…This mission seems so much bigger than us, but just with our annual basketball tournament, Madison MADDness, we have already made a difference...If only one life is impacted by our work, by Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s work, that makes a world of a difference. Just one donation…just one conversation means everything.”
That conversation truly can be the difference between someone's decision to drink and drive, or to refuse getting behind the wheel and ride with a designated driver. Often times, the subject is broached not by a peer, but by an authority figure, be it a parent, a professor, or a member of the law enforcement. Though effective and powerful, nothing seems to hit home harder than this message coming from a friend, which is just what the sisters of ASA are proving: “This is my third year being involved with MADD and every year I can see the effect it has on the awareness of drunk driving. We get hundreds of people involved in our fundraising event where each person is reminded of the consequences it has…I think having events like these is what really helps to decrease the number of incidents each year…” said ASA member Lauren Jacobi. Incidents like driving home after drinking at a party and losing control of the car, resulting in injury or death.
For some, ASA’s involvement with MADD strikes a chord on a deeper level. Member Kelly Stickell observed, “Fundraising for a philanthropy that has a personal impact on me and so many others in this sorority emphasizes how essential it is to educate, and put a stop to drunk driving.” And according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk driving does have an impact on many, as it is estimated that on average, 2 out of 3 people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in some capacity in their lifetime. It is MADD’s mission to end this 100% preventable crime, and as Ms. Stickell recounted, “ASA's collaboration with MADD is just another step further in the prevention of others from experiencing the pain or loss that can come from a drunk driving accident.”
And this message reaches far and wide when in the hands of the members of ASA. Imagine: they start a conversation about drunk driving that leads to an exciting and fun event in which hundreds participate. These several hundred people take this message they heard and spread it to their friends and family, who spread it even further. This is the power of partnership, a power that ASA at JMU, along with MADD, has harnessed for 9 years, and impacted countless lives, not only within their University, but in their home communities as well.
“On behalf of the sisters of Alpha Sigma Alpha, our hearts go out to everyone who has endured the tragedy of losing someone to the senseless act of drunk or drugged driving and we will work along with MADD to prevent it from happening again,” Breanna Hughes, ASA JMU Vice President.
MADD Virginia would like to thank and congratulate the sisters of Alpha Sigma Alpha for their relentless passion and hard work, and all they’ve done with and for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.