I want to share a very hard story with you in the hope of doing some good.
In 2004 I lost my son. He wasn’t sick. He wasn’t involved in anything that society would deem troublesome. My son, Kris, was a Sr. Airman in the United States Air Force. He served his country proudly and survived two tours overseas. But he couldn’t survive one of the most preventable crimes here at home.
My son was killed by a drunk driver.
When Kris was in elementary school, he always managed to get into some sort of small troubles with his teachers.
Toward the very end of sixth grade when there were only a few days left in the school year we received a call from his teacher. That evening Don, Kris’ step-dad, sat Kris down and asked Kris if he could possibly keep it together for six more days – just six days. It was an interesting “chat.” The next day while driving Kris to his acting class, he imitated Don’s talk with him – doing such a good job that it made me laugh. Fast forward to when Kris was serving in Iraq as a Senior Airman with the USAF. Kris thought the story needed to be repeated in order to get a laugh from his fellow airmen. Yes, he truly liked to make people laugh! We learned of his story retelling after Kris’ funeral service. One of his fellow airmen shared it with us, calling it the “Six Days Story.”
Who was Kris?
Kris enjoyed mountain biking, downhill skiing, go-karting, and both in-line and ice hockey. Kris was amazingly friendly. Kris was funny – he had a great sense of humor was very sociable. Throughout his high school years, he volunteered and was very active in our community. Whenever he came home to Arlington, Texas to visit he always made sure to visit with neighbors.
We all hear about working and contributing to “find a cure” for the various diseases that seem to plague our communities – and they’re all very worthy efforts. Drunk driving also has a cure. It’s as simple as having a designated driver – someone who is not drinking. Unfortunately, there are more deaths attributed to drunk driving each year, and these are TOTALLY PREVENTABLE deaths.
I’m writing this in hopes that those of you who read it will agree with me when I say that I’m saddened that drunk driving is still something that we’re fighting against. With so many options for making safe ride choices – taxis, ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft, public buses, event buses, limousines, friends and relatives just a phone call away – there truly is no reason that drunk driving deaths are still occurring. My son’s life should not have ended this way.
Why We Walk
MADD has done so much to help victims who were injured in drunk driving crashes and to support survivors of people who were killed by drunk drivers. Speaking for my family, the people at MADD Colorado were present at every court hearing, the sentencing for the person who took my son’s life, the various court dates afterwards, and the placing of a roadside memorial sign at the crash site in Denver where my son was killed. To this day the MADD folks still acknowledge the dates of our Kris’s passing and his birthday. I can’t tell you how much that means as we still try to accept our son’s death to a completely nonsensical crime.
MADD also works to educate our community about drunk driving, drugged driving and underage drinking. Staff and volunteers visit schools and community organizations to bring attention to and prevent underage drinking. They train victims and survivors – myself included – to speak at Victim Impact Panels that DUI offenders are mandated to attend. The folks at our state MADD office work with state legislators to enact stronger laws regarding drunk driving in Colorado. A few years ago they added drugged driving to their mission, and they continue (unfortunately) responding to the need for assistance from those of us affected by drunk driving crashes.
Will you join us?
On this 10th Anniversary of Walk Like MADD, I hope you will rally together in one of the 90 cities around the nation to help create a future of No More Victims. If you are in the Northern Colorado area, I encourage you to join “Kris’s Crew”, named in honor of my son, Sr. Airman Kristopher G. Mansfield. Everyone is welcome to walk with us. The Walk is a mere three miles, and it won’t take much time out of your day. What it will do is show your support of an organization that has everyone’s safety at the forefront of its mission, and will show the community that you’re also tired of people dying and being injured by those who choose to drink and drive. If you are unable to walk with us, then please consider making a financial contribution at www.walklikemadd.org/greeley. Thank you.
Team Captain – Kris’s Crew