On September 24th, MADD SC staff Kelly Stafford and Ashley Merrick were given the awesome opportunity to attend and speak with students at an event at Clafin University in Orangeburg, SC. About 250 students attended the event called The Freshman Promise. The event was sponsored by the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. MADD was invited by Konist Johnson, who works for the college. Konist lost her cousin Myles Holland, who was killed by a drunk driver in November 2017. Myles attended Claflin and graduated in the spring of 2017.
Myles and his girlfriend Tori were attending a Homecoming event at Claflin in November of 2017. After leaving the event, Myles and Tori were hit by drunk driver Torbert Mack, about a mile from campus. Myles died later that night at the hospital. Tori was severally injured but survived. Torbert Mack pled guilty August 27th, 2018 and is currently serving an 11-year sentence for Felony DUI with Death and Felony DUI with Great Bodily Injury in the SC Department of Corrections.
Konist hosted this event that was sponsored by Myles’s Fraternity, Omega Psi Phi. The event served to honor Myles while bringing awareness to students about underage drinking and drinking and driving. During the event, Victim Services Specialist Kelly Stafford, had the opportunity to share more about MADD and how she provides assistance to victims and survivors. Kelly was able to share statistics that caused gasps among the students as they learned that 28 people per day will die because of impaired driving crashes.
Program Specialist, Ashley Merrick, had the opportunity to present a newly introduced Power of Youth program designed for college students. Normally Ashley presents the Power of Youth program to middle and high school students. The Freshman Promise was a great opportunity for Ashley to speak with college students about the effects of underage drinking for those under the age of 21, yet, the message concentrated on designating a driver or arranging alternate transportation for those of legal age. Ashley told students to, “start making plans for alternate transportation as soon as you start making plans to go out.” During the event several victim stories were shared to help put faces to the overall message.
At the end of the presentation, Konist read her Victim Impact Statement that she had given to the trial judge who presided over Mr. Macks’s trial. She shared how her family has been impacted all because someone made the reckless decision to drink and then get in their vehicle and drive. The highlight of the program was that students signed a pledge not to drink and drive. The banner will be displayed in the student area for all students to see and will serve as a reminder for students to make plans before going out when drinking may be involved