Sunday, September 25, 2011

All Roads Lead to Memory Lane

Anna, age 2, Perkiomenville, PA
365 days a year an average of over 90 loved ones die on American roadways, with thousands more dying on roads around the world. Their names include Anna, Shaye, Kyle, Erika, Justin, Anthony, Nadia, Cady, James, Ashley, Brianna, Ian, Tia, Conor, Maddison, Nick, Natalie,and so many others loved by family and friends. They are our daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, moms, dads. They die on every kind of roadway, from the neighborhood street to the highway. 

When we think about it, every road we travel leads to memory lane - the place that held the possibilities, the hopes, the dreams, of those that every family that has experienced the death of a loved one due to a traffic incident recall each day. We may not think about these loved ones each time we take to the road, but their memories are indeed present on just about any stretch of road we travel.

Michael Everson's "Run to Remember" shoe dedicated to Erika Joy Rowan
How can you honor the memory of every loved one who had died in a traffic incident? I suggest that we do so every time we act in a courteous and safe manner behind the wheel or while a passenger in a motor vehicle. All you have to do is:

Be Aware! Drive With Care - Notice what is going on around as you drive - people walking, riding, children at play - and slow down or adjust other behaviors accordingly.

You care by walking around our vehicle before getting in and starting the engine. Make sure no children are around who may be hit as we back up or move forward.

You care by buckling up and making sure all passengers do so as well.

You care by putting away your cell phone - no talking, no texting. The research is in; even talking on a cell phone - hands-free or otherwise - causes one to drive more erratically than driving under the influence at .08 - legally drunk. 

 You care by observing speed limits, stop signs and traffic signals. We remember the words of Tia's dad, "Don't let the 2 minutes you save be the last 2 minutes of someone's life." He uttered these words in the wake of Tia's death - hit while crossing in a marked crosswalk at a stop sign. The first driver stopped. The one behind him decide to go around, hitting Tia and her friend, who luckily survived.

You care by creating space between your vehicle and others around you. A rule of thumb; allow 3 seconds of space between you and the vehicle ahead of you. Find a fixed object - a pole, a bridge, a sign - make sure that 3 seconds pass before you pass that object after vehicle in front of you passes that same object.

As you head out on the road, make every trip worthy of a drive down memory lane in honor of all who have died on roadways of every kind.

To make a difference in your community, visit:

Call Keep Kids Alive Drive 25®at 402-334-1391.

It’s About Kids! It’s About Safety! It’s About Caring! It’s About Time!®

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Make Your Next Race a "Run to Remember"

Make the difference! Be the difference!

Calling all runners! Make your next road or trail race a "Run to Remember" and help keep kids of all ages alive. Find out how to make it happen at "Run to Remember."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Every Picture Tells A Story to Help Keep Kids Alive

Here are photos of billboards posted around Omaha, NE. 
Thanks to UPS Foundation for funding these.*

And, as Paul Harvey used to say, "Here's the rest of the story."

The quote from David Townsend came in the aftermath of Tia's, death at age 11. Tia and a friend were crossing the street in a marked crosswalk at a stop sign in Shoreline, Washington. The first car to approach the sign/crosswalk stopped. The motorist behind him decided to pull around him - hitting and killing Tia and injuring her friend.

Ashley Steffen, age 17, of Waukesha, WI was standing in her driveway waiting for the school bus. A classmate raced down here 25 mph posted street at almost 60 mph, lost control, smashing into Ashley and ending her life.

Shaye Martin, age 8, was walking to school on the sidewalk in a designated school zone in Doral, FL when a motorist sped through at 60 mph, jumped the curb, running him over and ending his life.

David Townsend's message, along with the desire of Ashley's and Shaye's families to never have another family endure what they have experienced, should resonate with every one of us each time we get behind the wheel. Our behavior behind the wheel makes a life or death difference. Which behaviors do we choose to engage in? 

For more about Keep Kids Alive Drive 25 visit
*E-mail or call 402-334-1391 if you are interested in utilizing these billboard messages in your community.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 - Diminished and Challenged to Keep All Loved Ones Alive

Death diminishes and challenges us all, no matter what the circumstances.

As we observe the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, memorial services are held in communities of all sizes across our country. Even some NFL players wear specially designed gear in support of families who experienced the loss of a loved one on that day, or in the ensuing conflicts that have been fought in Afghanistan, and Iraq. Thousands have died, and whether each of us personally new these victims, we along with their families are diminished due to the loss of the love and service they would have continued to share with family, friends, and others in need throughout our world.

I am reminded, too, that over 350,000 loved ones have died during the past 10 years on our nations roadways. Their family and friends also grieve the loss of love, friendship, and service that their children, siblings, parents, cousins, friends undoubtedly would have shared had they lived. 

How are all the deaths of these loved ones connected? Quite simply, the death of anyone we care for, and who cared for us, is never easy, and we are all diminished by what might have been had they lived - through the tragedies of the Twin Towers, Shanksville, and the Pentagon, to the battlefields of the Middle East, to the death of a child at the hands of a speeding, texting, or stop-sign running driver.  We imagine a high school graduation, a wedding, a future grandchild, a hug, an "I love you," a hike in the mountains together, sharing holidays and birthdays, and so much more. We often grieve for the possibilities of the future, for what could have been.

Within our sorrow, we are left not only with memories, but also of the challenge of new possibilities - of what we each can do to create a legacy in remembering all the life and love a daughter, son, brother, sister, mother, father, friend has shared with us. Over the 13 years that I have worked to grow Keep Kids Alive Drive 25, I have encountered families who, like many of the survivors of the tragedies of 9/11, work to bring great good into our world in memory of their loved one. Click on these links to learn their stories.

  • Sean Martin has tirelessly worked with local officials and schools in Miami Lakes, FL in honor of his son, Shaye, struck by a speeding motorist while walking on the sidewalk in a school zone. Shaye's photo appears on the above banner.
  • Barbara Foster, along with her State Representative and many friends worked to see "Kyle's Law" through to passage to allow Texas communities to more easily lower their residential speed limits.
  • Karen Steffan initiated Keep Kids Alive Drive 25 in Waukesha, WI in honor of Ashley - whose photo appears on the banner above. 
  • Natalie DeLeon's mother, Beatriz, daily efforts working with Massachusetts legislators to enact a primary seat belt law in her honor.
  • The Henry family of Yardville, NJ set up an educational scholarship in honor of Anthony. This year they awarded 10 scholarships in Anthony's name.
  • The Diffenderfers of Perkiomenville, PA created a butterfly garden for the community in honor of 2 year-old Anna.
  • The Faust family of Lees Summit, MO doggedly worked to address engineering challenges that factored in to Justin's death. 
  • The Lloyd family of Omaha set up a scholarship fun in honor of Shannon to support one or more classmates upon their graduation from high school in 2012.
These efforts in memory of loved ones join today, and each day, with the families of all who have ever experienced the tragic death of a loved one. As we embrace the life we have been given, each of us is challenged each day to live a life worthy of creating a legacy that can benefit others. We can start by paying attention to our interactions within our families, among our neighbors, and with as we meet folks we might ordinarily think of as strangers. Building a legacy begins with courtesy, with manners, with consideration. We can even include our driving behaviors, which can make all the difference in keeping others, and ourselves, safe and alive on and around roadways of all kinds. Begin today by visiting "Get Started to Keep Kids Alive."

Contact: Tom Everson
Phone: 402-334-1391