The past few days I had the privilege of representing Keep Kids Alive Drive 25 at a regional conference of The Compassionate Friends (TCF). The Compassionate Friends is committed to grief support in the wake of the death of a child.
Every parent I met at TCF shared a story of the death of a daughter or son. Children died as a result of suicide, of cancer, of heart defects, blood diseases, and many additional medical ailments. Yet, far and away, the majority of parents shared stories of the death of a child as a result of a motor vehicle incident. Some children died as a result of a drunk driver, of speeding, of distracted driving, of not wearing a seat belt, of being backed over, and many other incidents. What all have in common is that they are loved by family who will never forget just how much they care about their son, daughter, brother, sister, grandchild.
Every parent wore a badge with the face of their child. Every child's face invited others to ask, "what is your story?" And stories of great love and compassion flowed, filled with tears, memories, sometimes smiles, and anecdotes about what makes their child unique, special, and loved forever.
It is easy to lose sight of the great love we each have for our children, until a day comes when we cannot hug and hold them, to revel in their ready smile, dry their tears, listen to their fears, and celebrate their goodness along with their accomplishments. Unless we have walked in the shoes of parents who have experienced the death of a child, there is no way we can know, no way we can even begin to approximate, what it feels like to live each day in the absence of one who was, and still is, loved unconditionally, without reservation. What these parents teach us is that even in the midst of cursing the darkness it is possible to light a candle - to let the love that is their child continue to spread goodness, beauty, and truth into a world that is hungry to know all three, and can begin to do so by embracing the wonder, the love, the creativity, the caring, the compassion, and so much more, that children who have died continue to offer us as gift as we live our lives each day.
This reminds me of why Keep Kids Alive Drive 25 exists - to keep compassion alive through each and every action we make behind the wheel. Why? Because each and every action does indeed make a difference in keeping ourselves and others alive so that all have the opportunity to return home to the embrace of the ones we love and the ones who love us.
As many know, each year we engage in a "Run to Remember" up Pike's Peak in honor and memory of all loved ones who have died in motor vehicle incidents. As we prepare for the journey upward on August 20th of this year, I invite you to join in solidarity with the families of all we have encountered through Keep Kids Alive Drive 25 along with all those families we may never meet and put compassion into action each time you get behind the wheel. And what does this compassion look like?
Quite simply, it looks like:
-Putting all distractions aside (cell phones - hands-free included, I-pods, food, make-up, pets, and so much more) and make driving your only priority
-Not speeding, and going slower when kids are around in neighborhoods, or when weather or other conditions dictate that we slow down on any kind of roadway
-Stopping at every stop sign - Stop! Take 3 To See
-Obeying every stop light and other traffic signals and signs
-Buckling up every one, every trip - no matter the distance
-Remembering that "It's not a race, so create space." 29% of injury crashes are the result of poor space management
-Never drinking and driving. It's simple, if you drink, don't drive.
I'm sure you can add dozens of other examples. I hope these few encourage each of us to be aware and drive with care. The person to whom it matters most is waiting for us at home.
I also invite your support as as a sponsor for our "Run to Remember." Your donation helps to underwrite the costs associated with providing a "Run to Remember" t-shirt to all surviving family members of those we run to remember - whose names we carry on the back of these shirts. We need to raise at least $7,500 to meet our commitment to families this year. You can make an immediate donation at "Run to Remember Donate." Click on the Donate button.
Thank you for all you do to keep compassion alive each day through your driving behaviors as well as your willingness to listen to and support families who have experienced the death of a child.
"Don't let the 2 minutes you 'save' be the last 2 minutes of someone's life." David Townsend (Tia's dad)
Keep Kids Alive Drive 25 - A Non-Profit "For Action" Organization 501c3