I've been privileged to work with Anne O'Brian, our local chaper president of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and consider her to be an exceptional role model. Anne began the local chapter in August of 1992, nearly two years after her 15-year-old daughter Carly was killed in a drunk driving accident. Anne was a divorcee with no other children, making Carly's death even more heartbreaking for her. Yet she channelled her grief from that loss into a positive outlet that has subsequently benefitted many people.
I first learned of Anne's plight on a news broadcast nearly a year after her daughter's death. Joel B., the drunk driver who was responsible for killing Carly, was tried and convicted of his crime. Anne exercised her option to read a victim's rights statement at his sentencing hearing. The courtroom was hushed when she took the podium, and dozens of local news reporters focused their cameras directly at Anne.
They expected a great sound bite from the victim's mother as she delivered her emotional statement. No one could have expected what she would say.
Anne began her speech by acknowledging her anger at Carly's senseless death. She deplored Joel's dependence upon alcohol and its tragic result. But she proceeded to beg the judge's mercy for the young man's life. Rather than insist on a long, harsh prison term, Anne pleaded on Joel's behalf for supervised probation. She saw no need for a second life to be wasted, and wanted only for the young man to stop drinking and take responsibility for his actions. Anne felt that the most constructive sentence for Joel was supervised probation, along with mandatory drug counseling and public service. Rather than have him become a convicted felon, Anne wanted Joel to become part of the solution.
The judge agreed.