Wednesday, November 16, 2016

She turned grief into action

Candy Lightner, a divorced mother of three, endured the unthinkable. Her 13-year-old daughter Cari was walking with a friend when she was struck by a car and killed. The driver didn't stop.

Later, it was learned that he'd been drunk when he hit Cari, and that it wasn't his first accident while driving drunk. The police told this grieving mother that the driver's punishment would probably be light. The driver was literally getting away with murder. 

Why? Because it was 1980.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) hadn't yet been formed. That organization hadn't yet pushed for reform of our laws against driving under the influence.

Candy was understandably enraged. Remarkably, she channeled her grief and anger. Within days of Cari's death, she decided to act. She gathered like-minded folks in her own home and they started to organize and develop a plan. They worked to raise awareness of the problem and pushed for changes to our laws. And so began a movement which has made an undeniable difference in our country. In 1980, the year Cari was killed, drunk drivers killed about 25,000 Americans. Today, the number has been cut by half. 

And the movement has expanded. Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) was founded 30 years ago. That organization has since expanded its mission and changed its name to Students Against Destructive Decisions.

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