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Category: Events

It’s an irony that chills the heart: Sgt. Maj. Jeremy Bruns survived nine deployments, including a number of tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, only to lose his legs and part of a hand because a drunk neighbor plowed into him and pinned him to his truck. He had been parked in front of his home, attaching a kayak to the roof when the driver managed to hit him and drag him more than 60 feet.

walk-like-maddHis recovery was long and arduous, taking him to several medical centers where he was first bedridden for months and then had to endure years of rehabilitation.

Part of the rehab involved learning to walk on two artificial legs.

Tough as that is, Sgt. Maj. Bruns is still walking, and he’s doing it for a cause. Recently he joined the Baltimore Walk Like MADD event to raise awareness of the harm that drunks drivers do in society every day.  Bruns is an outpatient at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda.

That awareness of the issue is lacking was evidenced even in Bruns’s case: originally the driver was charged with a misdemeanor, despite the carnage she caused. Eventually the charges were changed to a felony, and she was sentenced to 16 to 29 months in prison.

The case of this Fayetteville soldier is poignant because of Bruns’s bravery and his commitment to helping other people escape his fate.  The walk raised over $80,000, which will go towards MADD’s education efforts and its programs to help the victims of drunk drivers and their families.

A drunk driver might have taken Jeremy Bruns’s legs. But not his mind or his spirit. Both of them are dedicated to ending the scourge of drunk driving. Which is his are worthy footsteps to follow.

You don’t need another reason to play golf, but here’s one anyway: you’ll be supporting efforts to reduce drunk driving in North Carolina.

Emily’s Plea is an organization dedicated to saving lives by educating people on the dangers of drinking and driving. It was founded by Chuck and Becky Kennedy in memory of their daughter Emily May, who was killed by a drunk driver at the age of 24.

The organization is holding its sixth annual golf tournament at the Holly Ridge Golf Links in Archdale on Saturday, October 3rd.

The entry fees will help support the organization’s efforts, which include talks and educational events at high schools, courthouses and governmental agencies, and they support and sponsor other events to aid the cause.

One of the tasks that Emily’s Plea has taken on is speaking to people who have been charged with various traffic offenses, to make them aware of the risks they are taking and the lives they are endangering. “We don’t just deal with alcohol – we talk about cellphones, seat belts, speeding,” says Becky Kennedy. “They save on fines and court costs by taking our classes.” And they learn why they need to take more care in their driving.

Emily’s Plea is affiliated with the Crash Prevention Network of North Carolina.

Becky Kennedy is also a chairperson for Compassionate Friends, a group which provides support for parents who have suffered the death of a child.

“When I’m speaking, I’ll usually finish by telling young people that I don’t want to meet their parents.”

Here is where you can find details and register for the Sixth Annual Emily May Invitational Golf Tournament

Designate a Driver this Cinco de MayoToday is Cinco de Mayo, a joyous and colorful celebration that began in Mexico but which has become an American institution. The day celebrates a military victory over the French army in 1862, won despite overwhelming odds. Do you care? Probably not. But are you celebrating? Plenty of people are.

Music, food, dance, sports, and spectacle are all part of Cinco de Mayo, which has spread out from the nation’s Latino communities to embrace everyone who likes a good time. Cities all over the USA have planned festivities, and more impromptu ones will no doubt arise as people get into the spirit.

Unfortunately, drunk driving is a feature of large-scale festivals, and Cinco de Mayo is no exception. Any municipality that has a task force dedicated to DWI will be deploying it today. Police will be looking for erratic driving, stopping suspect drivers, and administering breath tests. Anyone found guilty of drunk driving will face serious penalties. Arrests will be up – guaranteed.

But today is the day, you say. You’ve got plans, and they include beer and margaritas.

That’s fine. No one says you shouldn’t go wild on Cinco de Mayo. But remember that the fun stops, and the criminal responsibility begins, as soon as you get behind the wheel after drinking. So here’s what to do:

  • Use public transport if you can. That includes taxis and rideshare services. The latter will be raising prices because it’s a holiday, so take that into account. If public transport isn’t an option, and home is too far to walk, then choose one of the following:
  • Designate a driver before the drinking starts. The “before” part is important. Call in a favor, or promise a friend that you’ll do the next festival. Do whatever you have to do, but make sure that there’s a completely sober friend to drive you home. Once you all start drinking, it’s too late, so text a friend now and organize your DD. If you’re out of luck on the designated driver front, there’s one more option:
  • Crash where you are. If you’re partying at a friend’s house, stay over. Just make sure that you’re sober before you drive tomorrow. A night’s sleep isn’t always enough to get the alcohol out of your system, depending on how much you put into it.

Remember that when you’re drinking tonight, you always have options, and that driving is not one of them.

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

If you have a drop of Irish blood – or even if you don’t – you might be thinking of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with friends next Tuesday. That’s fine, but statistics show that DUI arrests and crashes go up on this holiday, so it’s important that you plan ahead. A reminder from USDOT about St. Patrick's Day.

If you’re going to be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day next week, we can boil things down to four choices:

  1. Designate a driver
  2. Be a designated driver
  3. Take a taxi, rideshare or public transit
  4. Arrange for a friend to pick you up

Let’s say you elect choice number 1. Then TODAY is the day to act. Make some calls or send some texts, and sound out your friends on who would be willing to forego drinks Tuesday evening. Perhaps whoever was most in need of a DD on New Year’s could return the favor tomorrow. Or else, start quickly expanding your circle of friends to teetotalers. Some of them are quite interesting, really.

Most major communities have services which help ferry people home on holidays. Here’s a list of such services for the whole of the US.

Some other reminders:

  • Don’t let your friends drive drunk either – help them get a ride
  • Eat something. That will slow the effects of the alcohol (but you’ll still need a driver!)

As far as staying safe on St. Patrick’s Day is concerned, the luck of the Irish has nothing to do with it. You need to plan. But the good news is, drunk driving is 100% preventable.

Now pick up that phone. You’ve got six days.

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