I was 12 years old, my friend perhaps a year older; she was a year ahead of me in school. Her name is Gloria Scanlon. I think of her often. She befriended me at a time when I was experiencing culture shock after our family moved to Ontario. I was extremely homesick and missing my old school and friends. She defended me when the bully of the classroom would pick on me. In many ways she was my hero. She died when a drunk driver hit her and her pregnant sister-in-law as they were walking to a store. I remember her face. I remember her funeral. And every year when the organization against drunk driving, MADD, go into high gear to kick off their red ribbon campaign, I am reminded once again of Gloria.
Today I have more reason than ever to think about the victims of drunk driving. Despite millions poured into a public awareness campaign to combat impaired driving people continue to climb behind the wheel of their vehicles while under the influence of alcohol. I don’t get it. Perhaps I never will. On November 19, 2016 my brother was driving home from work, headed north. At the same time a 36-year-old man who had been drinking was driving southbound. There was a collision. My brother was killed. The other driver is facing charges. And my family is left to grieve. My brother’s children have been left fatherless. Why? Why, after decades of hearing and seeing the message, “don’t drink and drive” do people decide to do just that. Why?
I may never know why. But I do know this: Gloria will never be forgotten. My brother will never be forgotten. I will share their stories. I will work toward finding the answers, not only for my family, not only for Gloria, but for every single person affected by senseless tragedies such as this. They will never, ever, be forgotten.