MADD shows grassroots effort can change world

Day by Day

MADD shows grassroots effort can change world

LIZ THOMPSON

September 15, 2015
This Week News

A mother can be as formidable as a lioness protecting her cubs.

Mothers have shaped many a child and organization throughout history. In most cases, we want these women in our corner, as children and as adults.

In 1980, one such mother, Candy Lightner, made a pledge when her 13-year-old daughter, Cari, was killed by a repeat drunk-driving offender. Lightner founded Mothers Against Drunk Drivers that same year.

Cindy Lamb — whose daughter, Laura, became the nation’s youngest quadriplegic at the hands of a drunk driver — soon joined Lightner in her crusade to save lives.

Lamb wanted to do something about the outrage of drunk driving. The decision of these two women inspired a handful of grieving, determined mothers to join in the fight.

United in mission, they had no wherewithal to proceed. It is said, in MADD’s material, these women “initiated one of the great grassroots successes in American history.”

These mothers did not back down to politicians who “knew the stats but did not act.” To an industry that valued profit over safety. To a society that found drunkenness, including drunk driving, something to laugh at.

These mothers showed the human side of the results of drunk driving, putting faces to the statistics.

In 1984, MADD changed its name from Mothers Against Drunk Drivers to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. This change was made because MADD is opposed to the criminal act of drunk driving, not against individuals.

MADD also updated its mission statement to “Mothers Against Drunk Driving provides grassroots leadership to create major social change in the attitude and behavior of Americans toward drunk driving.”

In 2015, MADD defined its role to include the fight against drugged driving. “The mission of MADD is to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking.”

MADD’s website shows that drugs other than alcohol are involved in about 18 percent of motor vehicle driver deaths. Fifty-seven percent of fatally injured drivers had alcohol or other drugs in their system; 17 percent had both.

Today, volunteers include mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, other family members, friends and neighbors to create and sustain the foundation of MADD. These people are dedicated, determined and committed men and women of all ages and all walks of life working as one to achieve MADD’s mission.

“It’s not smart to drink and drive under any condition,” said Doug Scoles, state executive director for MADD.

We may not think teens listen to us, as parents, yet extensive research reports 75 percent of kids age 8-17 say their parents are the leading influence on their decisions about drinking.

To give parents the tools to talk with their children, MADD has a program, The Power of Parents.

“We provide free 30-minute workshops for parents which includes how to talk with your teen about choices involving alcohol,” Scoles said.

Randy Young lost his daughter, Tanya, in 1990.

“She was in a vehicle with five other individuals. All had been drinking and the driver hit a patch of ice and went off a county road, down an embankment and struck a tree head-on. Tanya was in the back seat and wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. The impact of the tree caused her to break her neck and (she) died instantly.”

He wishes there had been programs like The Power of Parents when raising Tanya.

“We were parents that either missed the signs or we knew what was going on but felt both uncomfortable and maybe unqualified to talk about alcohol use to our children.”

It took almost nine months before the driver was actually put on trial, later found guilty of two counts of vehicular homicide and received five-year terms for each death.

“We became involved with MADD during this time as they provided victim services to us through the pretrial and during the trial process.”

A quote by Margaret Mead captures MADD’s success. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

For more information or to schedule a workshop, contact the MADD Ohio office at 614-885-6233 or 800-552-864 FREE. If you or a loved one has been affected by drunk driving, MADD operates at 24-hour victim helpline at 877-623-3435 FREE.

The local MADD chapter is one of 60 across the country that will host 5k walk-runs this year, to raise money for for its mission to end drunk driving. The central Ohio Walk Like MADD will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 3 at Heritage Park in Westerville. To participate in the walk or donate to the effort, visit walklikemadd.org.

 

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