Making a Difference: Owen's Foundation
Saturday night at midnight, we will ring in the new year with celebrations all across Central PA.
But if those parties include alcohol and other drugs, things could get bad on the roads to those celebrations.
Then add to that, other distractions and bad decisions and some won't be around for 2017.
That's what a Dauphin County family is trying to prevent by sharing their tragic story to try and make a difference.
Makenna Brezitski, 20, says "I've seen that a lot with a lot of my friends getting in the car that they put their phone down and the other person then takes care of navigating to where we need to go. I don't know if that's just because they're with me and they know my story?"
Makenna Brezitski's story is one no sister should ever have to tell.
Mark Brezitski "I think it hit close to home, people still remember the story..."
It was a monumental task just to get out of bed to go on with our daily lives...
Nor is it a story a mother or father should ever have to share.
But Mark, Karen, Makenna and Kyla Brezitski do tell the story often, in hopes of preventing this devastating loss from happening to any other family.
Come this Saint Patrick's Day it will be 6 years that Owen Brezitski was hit and killed by a young, distracted driver. He was 8 years old.
Through Owen’s Foundation that the family established after his death, and all things orange, Owen’s favorite color, his parents and sisters are raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.
Mark says, "Kids growing up and everything is instantaneous. I gotta be on my cell phone, I have to do this, if I don't answer a call within five seconds there's something wrong, or I have a text I have that Bing, it's , it's , it's instantaneous, just trying to tell anybody. It's adults now days too, you're on work and you have to travel and take a business call or something you have to see -- it can wait."
Karen says "With all the GPS, WiFi, all of that inside the car now, you know, again time and a place, just takes one second for a tragedy to occur. I know not everybody thinks about that, but that's what we think about now and so really our message is to get out there -- slow down, be alert and save a life."
Spread the word, slow down, be alert, save a life.
Makenna said earlier that her friends are getting it, but for 17 year old Kyla's peer group it's still a challenge.
Kyla "I see stories on my timeline every couple of times a month of people taking SnapChat of their music or what they're listening to behind the wheel, so I think it's a different set of problems with my age group and I think we really need to address it."
And Felicity Erni with the PA DUI Association says they address distracted and impaired driving all year long, and applaud the Brezitski family and others who may just be considered a statistic by people who don't know their story.
Felicity Erni "We hope that come January 2nd and 3rd, when we're looking at the data, the crash data, whether it's impaired driving, distracted driving crash data, we hope all those efforts have made a difference during the year, because every single data point we look at represents somebody's life that was impacted."
And as they say goodbye to the end of year holidays and to the orange ornaments on the tree and Owen’s empty stocking hanging from the mantle, the Brezitski's hope their story and their message will ring loud and clear throughout 2017.
I think we're being more cautious and slowing down and putting the phone down, keeping both hands on the wheel and just getting from point A to point B safely.