Mother Who Lost Child to Drunk Driving Speaks Out
"Every one of you today in this auditorium can definitely make a difference in the world if you just have a plan."
With those words, Renee Napier opened her presentation at Buchholz High School on Tuesday. She stood in front of a crowd of juniors and seniors and calmly told her daughter Meagan's story.
Renee says Meagan "loved collecting cows, she loved people, she loved life, she loved to laugh."
But in 2002, 20 year old Meagan and her friend Lisa Dickson were driving home from a Pensacola Beach when they were hit by a drunk driver. He hit their car, sending it crashing into a tree and snapping both girls' necks instantly.
Dakota Reynolds is a senior at Buchholz. She says she was moved by the story.
"You know, I know it's kind of a mandatory meeting for us," she says, "and I don't want to be the one person in the class saying 'oh, you know, this is kind of cool to go to.' Cause everybody else is like 'uuggh, this is stupid' but I mean, it's really not."
Renee started the Meagan Napier Foundation to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving, and also to help defer the costs of her now-constant traveling. Everywhere she goes, Renee takes the car with her that Meagan was driving the night she was killed. She says it helps to spread the message that has now become her life's work.
And part of that passion is working with the drunk driver who crashed into Meagan's car, Erik Smallridge.
"Truly, I mean, being a mother," she says, " was definitely my calling. And this, just knowing how these kids respond to what I'm doing and then if you could see it with Erik, my heart is so into having him with me because I see the power of the two of us together."
After the presentation, Renee gave students the chance to come up and make a verbal commitment not to drive drunk. Hugs went around and whispers of "I promise" were heard in the nearly empty auditorium.
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