Progress

We've been making progress over the past few months.  In January, we spoke to over 700 students at Bishop Hartley high school.  We also spoke with a unit of the Ohio National Guard, reinforcing the message to use their leadership to role model behaviors.  We've also been working with the students at Gahanna High School to form a SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) chapter so the lessons from Sydnee's crash can live on beyond the students who knew her.  As part of those discussions, we also participated in an investigative report by ABC6 about texting and driving.

http://www.abc6onyourside.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/ABC-6-Investigates-Sharing-the-Road-with-Distracted-Drivers-86816.shtml

We have continued to work with State Representative Sheehy to reintroduce the bill to make Texting and Driving a primary ban for all ages, which ran out of time for a floor vote in the last session.  This bill should be introduced into committee this week.

Additionally, I attended a lecture by Dr Bruce Simons-Morton, a lead researcher in teen driving.  There, I learned about a great tool to help parents monitor their teen's driving behaviors while they are not in the car, and thus loosen driving restrictions as teens demonstrate good independent driving behaviors.  Below is a link to this program, as well as a link to receive this service free of charge if you're an American Family Insurance customer.

http://www.lytx.com/our-markets/family/overview

http://www.teensafedriver.com/

I'm working with AAA Ohio and contacts at Nationwide Insurance to see if we can get this invaluable program more visibility to help save teen lives.

Another senseless death

This past Thursday, 3 teens were killed and 2 critically injured as the result of reckless and distracted driving.  None of the 5 teens in the car were wearing their seatbelts.  The driver was 16 years old, which limits him to only 1 passenger under Ohio's Graduated Driver Licensing law.  

I spoke with a dispatch reporter for an article about seatbelt safety, which has been shared over 20,000 times.

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/06/28/teenagers-choices-can-lead-to-tragedy.html

Over 2/3rds of teens killed in automobile crashes last year were passengers, and over half of the teens killed in crashes would have survived had they been wearing their seatbelt.

Please speak with your kids, even if they are not driving yet because passengers have a responsibility to make sure everyone in the car arrives to their destination safely.

Met with Rep. Michael Sheehy

On June 25th, I went with Sharon Montgomery, who lost her husband to a distracted driver 14 years ago, to meet with Rep. Michael Sheehy to discuss the need for tougher laws related to texting while driving.  Rep. Damschroder is sponsoring a bill to make Texting while Driving a primary offense, meaning that a police officer can stop a motorist who they see texting while driving.  We believe that legislation and enforcement, along with education are necessary to change the culture, which will in turn drive behaviors.  Even though texting while driving has proven to be more dangerous than drunk driving, our culture does not have the same visceral reaction to seeing someone texting behind the wheel of a car as they do seeing a drunk driver behind the wheel.  There is no one magic bullet that can change the culture, but we believe that a combination of legislation, enforcement, and education can make that shift.

The day after the meeting, we received word from Rep. Sheehy's office that he has signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill.

Talked to the Governor about Sydnee

I had the opportunity to speak with Governor Kasich on June 24th, when he visited my workplace.  I shared with him a rememberance bracelet and story card and told him of the important work that we're doing to spread awareness.  We'll be visiting the Governor's office on July 2nd and speaking with some of his staff to spread more awareness of the work to be done from both a legislation and education standpoint to make the cultural shift when texting while driving is not acceptable.

Dash for Donation

We've formed a RememberSydnee team to participate in the Lifeline of Ohio Dash for Donations 5K on July 12th.  We have over 30 participants "running" to remember Sydnee.  Lifeline of Ohio will also be featuring Sydnee's story on their website lifelineofohio.org on July 4th.

I will also be sharing Sydnee's story with the media on July 12th.

If you are interested in participating in the dash, you can still register at http://dashfordonation.org/.

Workplace presentation

I'm working with Impact Teen Drivers to bring the Parent/Teen workshop curriculum to my place of employment, Alliance Data.  We'll be presenting on July 24th.  While teens send an astonishing amount of text messages, adults are just as guilty of texting while driving as teens are.  I used to be one of them.  

Our hope is that by sharing Sydnee's message, folks will understand that while you may have done it a hundred times before without incident, it only takes one time to have devastating consequences.  Many folks also have teens driving, so we want to make sure parents understand the Graduated Driver Licensing laws in Ohio, and how they are there to protect our children.

Because co-workers have kids in school districts throughout Central Ohio, my hope is that they'll take this message back to their schools and help create opportunities for us to get into more local schools to share this message directly with teens. 

Welcome Heidi

Ricky Birt, who has been the Ohio Coordinator for Impact Teen Drivers is leaving to take a national role with the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) organization.  This opportunity will allow Ricky to partner the SADD organization with Impact Teen Drivers on a national level to save lives.

We're happy to welcome Heidi Deane to the team as the new Ohio Coordinator for ITD.  Heidi comes to us with a wealth of experience in marketing and communications, with a focus on public health.  She previously played a key role in driving educating stadium and arena workers across the U.S. on how to identify intoxicated fans and intervene to ensure everyone's safety.  As a mother of two early teen daughters, Heidi provide a unique insight into the early teen perspective on this critical issue.  

Big Impact t-shirts

We've created t-shirts to help spread Sydnee's message, which include the phrase One Decision Big Impact on the front, and a word cloud describing Sydnee.  If you would like a shirt, you can purchase one from the store for $10.

Video Premier

Last night we had the amazing honor of hosting a dinner for many of the wonderful people who have been impacted by Sydnee's crash.  In attendence were Vicky and Joe, who were in the vehicle with Sydnee, along with their families.  The people who cared for Sydnee at the crash scene, including the nurse who performed CPR at the scene and a witness who prayed over Sydnee along with the State Highway patrol officers who responded to the scene and investigated the crash.  We also had our favorite ICU nurse, who took wonderful care of Sydnee at the hospital. Numerous family, friends, and our pastor were there, who supported us through several sleepless nights at the hospital.  We also had the privilege of having one of the organ donation recipients along with staff from Lifeline of Ohio who helped us through the donation process.  Additionally, we had some great friends who are helping us to spread the message about the dangers of distracted driving.  It was our pleasure to share with them the video that was produced by Impact Teen Drivers, which we'll be using to take this message to area schools.  It was a truly amazing night, and we feel blessed by God with all of the amazing support we have.  

I'll be doing my first school assembly tomorrow at Loveland High School in Cincinnati.  We'll also be participating in a press conference on May 17th for the kick-off of Licking County's Click It or Ticket campaign.  I'll also be doing three school assemblies at Gahanna High School on May 19th, sharing Sydnee's story with many friends who knew her well.  We're confident that Sydnee will save many lives through sharing this message.

We're also putting together a Remember Sydnee team to participate in the Dash for Donations 5K on July 12th, sponsored by Lifeline of Ohio.  We've seen the amazing impact Sydnee's donation has had on one family, and believe that sharing this with others is a key part of Sydnee's legacy.

Thank you to everyone who has been there to love and support us during the most difficult time of our lives.

Impact Teen Drivers

We just finished filming Sydnee's story with the video crew from Impact Teen Drivers.  They interviewed 18 people involved in Sydnee's crash.  It was a wonderful and draining experience all at the same time, but we really appreciate everyone's involvement in making a difference.  It will take more than a month for the video crew to edit together the hours of footage into a 5-6 minute video, but as soon as we have something we will post it to this site.  We met some wonderful people at the events Impact Teen Drivers put on this week and look forward to working with these folks to spread the message about the dangers of distracted driving in their communities. 

 Tyler and Brian are not just wonderful cinematographers but also great people.  Thank you!!!

Tyler and Brian are not just wonderful cinematographers but also great people.  Thank you!!!

 Kelly is amazing and our whole family connected with her and the wonderful message she has created with Impact Teen Drivers.

Kelly is amazing and our whole family connected with her and the wonderful message she has created with Impact Teen Drivers.

It Can Wait magnets

We just received approval to sell the It Can Wait car magnets at St. Luke as a fundraiser for camp scholarships.  Sydnee loved attending the Laguna Beach Christian Camp the past two years, and these trips really grew her faith in Christ.

magnet.jpg

More bracelets

We've received 2,500 more bracelet and will have them available at St. Luke Lutheran church beginning tomorrow.  We've created memory cards that tell Sydnee's story about what it means to wear the bracelet.  We want people to not just take a bracelet for themselves, but also to give to others they love, and believe the memory cards can help communicate the message more clearly.