(Sponsored Content | MADD)
When Mothers Against Drunk Driving was founded four decades ago, 25,000 people a year were killed by drunk drivers.
One of those victims was Cari Lightner. On May 3, 1980, the 13-year-old was walking to a church carnival with a friend when she was struck by a car and killed. The driver, who was drunk at the time, had recently been released from jail after his fourth drunk driving arrest.
That same year Cari’s mother, Candace Lightner, turned her grief and anger into action. She founded MADD and began the hard work of reshaping America’s attitudes toward drunk driving.
Over the past 40 years, MADD has saved hundreds of thousands of lives and helped many more victims and families. And yet, there is more work to be done.
Around 10,000 people still die each year because of drunk driving — and MADD says they won’t stop or celebrate until that number is zero.
Today we honor the memory of a few dedicated individuals who joined MADD in the fight against drunk driving, promoting public safety and working tirelessly on behalf of victims.
Mary Sumikawa Wiley-Harris (d. 2019)
Mary’s association with MADD began when her 20-year-old daughter Alice was killed by a drunk driver in 1980. Mary started the first Florida chapter of MADD and became known as the “MADD Mom” for her efforts to reduce drunk driving fatalities. In 1984, the Orlando Sentinel named her “Floridian of the Year.”
“This MADD Mom has made a big difference!”
James Henry Weaver (1945–2019)
The loss of his only son Chad to a drunk driver in 1987 inspired Jim to work for change. He served as a local president and state officer for MADD, “advocating for victims of drunk driving crashes in court.” Together he and his wife “worked to improve legislation surrounding drunk driving penalties in Washington state.”
Ernest Gonzalez (1931–2017)
In 1988 his eldest son, Nicholas, was killed by a drunk driver. It was then that Ernest “began his dedication to victims’ rights and advocacy to the Gainesville community.” He joined MADD, eventually becoming president of the local Gainesville chapter. He spoke at local schools, community functions, and victim impact panels designed to educate and persuade offenders to better their choices. Through his advocacy, Ernest “touched many lives.”
Suzanne N. Morrow Long (1930–2019)
Sue Morrow Long co-founded a MADD chapter after her daughter Janet Morrow Loeb was killed in 1982 by a chronic drunk driver. “Her 9 years of work in this area gave her the opportunity to make a tremendous difference in the lives of others” and “allowed her to have an impact on highway safety.”
Jacqueline Masso (1930–2019)
Jackie Masso “found her passion after a horrific car crash.” She became a victim advocate and and served as president of the Santa Clara County (California) chapter of MADD, “where she and Pat touched the hearts and lives of countless victims and offenders alike.”
Marianne Henderson (1949–2019)
Marianne was herself a victim of a drunk driver. “Crippled for life,” she finally finished paying her medical bills 20 years after the crash. The uninsured drunk driver “paid nothing” and served only six months — the maximum sentence at the time.
Drunk driving awareness and prevention became Marianne’s “mission.” She advocated for stronger penalties for vehicular assault in Washington state, fought for better accessibility for disabled persons in her local community, and served on the victims’ panel speaking to persons convicted of drunk driving. To promote awareness, she even attached sign to her mobility scooter:
“IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU TOO! An uninsured drunk driver crashed into me on 12/16/1990. PLEASE think BEFORE you drink And always drive STONE-COLD-Sober!”
Lou Retta Wiseman Young (1935–2019)
After her daughter Traci Elaine Young was killed by a drunk driver in 1983, Lou became active in her local MADD chapter and eventually served as president.
Edward L. Hensley (1946–2020)
Ed lost his son Adam to a drunk driver in 1986. He and his wife then co-founded the Jefferson County (Florida) chapter of MADD.
Madge Marie Dammel Eaton (1926–2020)
After she and her husband endured the tragic loss of their daughter Dorothy in 1981, Madge became an “ardent supporter” of MADD.
Nancy Jean Safronoff (1939–2019)
Nancy was a charter member of MADD in Michigan and was “instrumental in the signing of the first drunk driving legislation for the state.”
Bonnie C. Temple (d. 2019)
Bonnie “was a natural-born advocate and a strong voice to those in need.” In the 1990s, she worked as a chapter administrator for MADD, “fighting for the rights of victims and families.”
Terry Martin Lynch (d. 2019)
Terry became involved with MADD during his career as a traffic homicide investigator with the Florida Highway Patrol. Later, “he introduced and co-authored legislation that led to the introduction of Interlock and other devices to deter drunk driving.”
“With his gift for words, affable personality, and passion for public safety, Terry was able to develop a successful business that continues his mission to prevent drunk driving.”
Madison Elizabeth Coleman (d. 2019)
Maddy was just 17 when she died in a crash caused by a drunk driver. In her obituary, Maddy’s parents include this poignant message:
“In lieu of flowers, we ask you donate to mothers against drunk drivers (MADD). This terrible tragedy could have been prevented.”