Don’t let the unthinkable crash happen here

Published 9:40 am Thursday, April 15, 2010

Don’t drink and Drive!

Imagine this headline: “Two 16-year-olds and an 18-year-old die in a car crash last night.”

Is this the headline we want to see in the next month or so? Or ever, for that matter?

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No, no, no, I say.

Every year between prom and graduation, parents and loved ones across the country hold their collective breath hoping such a tragedy does not happen.

Why then does it still happen? Stupidity is one reason. People, including underage kids, still drink and drive.

Consider this statistic: almost 40 percent of 15- to 20-year-old fatalities in Minnesota are alcohol-related. It should raise an eyebrow and make you say, hmmm.

Naivete is another. If you think your child is perfect and would never do something like drink and drive, you are wrong.

Johnny, tell these parents what they have won.

Well Bob, the happily naive couple will receive a one- to 30-day stay in the local emergency room, providing their child was lucky enough to live through the crash or was not airlifted to a major hospital right away. If the child does not live through the crash, these lucky parents will have the chance to plan their child’s funeral and experience guilt-ridden grief for the rest of their lives.

If it sounds like I am making a joke out of this, I’m not. This is not a joking matter. It is the sad, hard truth, and I want your child to live for a long, long time. I have gone to funerals for young people who died much too young. I watched my son as he tried to adjust to losing his best friend a year after graduation. It is the worst kind of funeral. It is the worst kind of pain. It’s an experience I hope none of you ever has to go through, and for those of you who have, I offer you my sincere apologies and prayers. It is a nice thing to offer apologies and prayers, but if you ask the loved ones and parents of those kids who died too young, what they would prefer, I believe they would say, is another minute, another day, another year, with their son, their daughter, their sister or their brother.

What I am trying to get across to you is be the parent that kids get tired of listening to. Be the parent that is not their buddy. Kids listen more than you think and they will still love you — but they will have the opportunity to love you a lot longer if they hear you and understand the message you are sending them. I would rather my child think I bug them too much about drinking or drug abuse than not to be able to talk to them ever again.

Love is the key word here.

Kids, if your parents have given you a curfew, great. If your parents have asked you about drinking and driving, awesome. If they asked about your friends, yay. If they bug you about when, where, who, what and how, good — it is because they love you. If your parents did not love you, do you think that they would go to all the trouble of knowing everything about you?

Parents, grandparents, teenagers and you are all in this together. The community suffers when a child or teen dies in an alcohol-related collision. We all wonder what the child or teen might have accomplished in their lifetime. How many lives would they have touched? Would they become the person you most admired, the person you wanted them to be?

Please do me a favor, take a few minutes and tell your children, nieces, nephews and anyone you know — not to drink and drive. Our world needs you. You are the future and you deserve to live out the freedoms that many other teenagers have fought and died for.

Remember these three things:

We all have a choice.

We all have to live or die with that choice.

Please make the right choice — don’t drink and drive!


The American Cancer Society of Freeborn County has its 38th annual 100-mile Bike-A-Thon coming up on May 1.

If you have never donated, volunteered or cheered on the people in this bicycle ride, you really need to. Fighting cancer is an ongoing job, and the Bike-A-Thon has grown more and more popular every year. It includes riding through the great areas of Alden, Glenville, Myrtle, Hayward, Geneva, Hartland, Conger, Freeborn and Albert Lea.

You get to start and finish at the Sibley Elementary School area out by the Skyline Plaza. Along the route there are volunteers to help you with water and cheering you on as you are doing a great thing! So mark the Saturday of May 1 down and set your alarms for early and join in the fun!

Safety side note: Please, everyone, wear your helmets and stay safe!

Kiwanis visit

I had a great experience last week speaking to the Thursday morning social group Golden K-1 Kiwanis at the Albert Lea Legion. This group which meets every Thursday at 9:30 a.m. is just an amazing group and very informed on the politics and the social goings on of Freeborn County area. Norm Fredin from the Fair Board asked me to speak, and I was very impressed at this group of young people.

I know this group is doing a membership drive and if you like to joke around, volunteer, or just plain chit-chat with some great people please stop down at the American Legion Club and sit in on a meeting. I promise you that you will smile at least once or your money back!

Tribune Publisher Scott Schmeltzer’s column appears every Thursday.