Due to the reckless actions of a drunk driver, my best friend Stephanie was paralyzed from the neck down at age fifteen. While riding home from a weekend movie, she was hit head-on by a minivan whose driver's blood alcohol was twice the legal limit. Because her injuries were so severe, Stephanie was forced to withdraw from Barrington High School and enlist the help of a full-time tutor. Doctors seriously doubt that she will ever enjoy her previous hobbies of dancing, field hockey and swimming.
Stephanie's injuries left a lasting impression on my heart and those of everyone in our tight-knit community. Although we are a small town, we have survived a disproportionate number of drunk driving fatalities. We all vowed that Stephanie's devastating accident would be the last. Following her accident last year, 20 of us formed the town's first chapter of Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD). While we all prefer to think that the drunk who hit Stephanie was an evil monster, he was actually a 20-year-old native of our community.
Everyone in town knew Joe since he was a kid and we all knew he liked to drink on Friday nights at the County Line Saloon. Sadly, we never took the time to consider whether Joe had a problem that could potentially hurt others. We never stopped him from getting in his car and driving home after 3, 4, or 10 mixed drinks.
SADD is a group that does everything possible to spread awareness about the evil and potential ramifications of driving drunk. Unfortunately, we can't ever undo the traumatic incident that lead to our own group's formation. Despite our good thoughts and heartfelt intentions, Stephanie will never walk again. Joe will spend the next eight years in prison, receiving no help or treatment for his alcoholism. Two wasted lives, a result of a totally senseless and needless situation. SADD's goal is to prevent the next incident, to prevent more wasted lives and ruined families.
I am committed to being Stephanie's friend for the rest of my life. I visit her frequently and try my best to be a normal presence in her very narrow world. Yet I am equally committed to working for SADD, to prevent other kids my age from making the same mistake as Joe. Barrington has zero tolerance for drinking and driving and the inevitably devastating consequences. For the rest of my life, I will do my part to protect my family and friends from this sad evil that permeates every level of society.