Chuck, I fear New Year’s every year because my family already
drinks too much alcohol. Any word of advice? – Jane T., Richmond, Va.
I don’t have to rehearse with you the negatives of excessive
alcohol consumption. But I can think of no better way to inspire your new
year than to share a story (which you can share with others) about a Marine
and his father and the commendable work they’re doing to help our health and
fitness and possibly even save our and others’ lives.
On Feb. 11, 2006, in Iraq, I was honored to meet a model Marine by
the name of Cpl. David Stidman. He did two tours in Iraq and one in
Afghanistan. Commendably, he also left his post to come home and care for
his ailing father, Dwayne Stidman, who tragically was hit and critically
wounded by a drunken driver last May.
Three months later, on Aug. 2, 2010, Cpl. Stidman was killed. Not on
the battlefields of the Middle East, but on his home streets of Texas while
still caring for his father and family. And not by a drive-by shooter, but
by another drunken driver. Cpl. Stidman was killed on his motorcycle while
completely stopped at a stoplight just miles from home.
To add insult to injury, David’s killer had not one but two prior
driving-while-intoxicated violations. The driver had been released
repeatedly from his criminal charges and allowed to drive because of the
lack of strict laws and enforcement by our court systems.
Words cannot express the depths of what my wife, Gena, and I felt
when reading David’s story. He was truly the epitome of the best our country
creates. God only knows the lives he saved through his service to our
And even now, in his passing, his father, Dwayne, is fighting with
him to save even more lives by reducing the number of drunken drivers and
repeat offenders on America’s roads.
in 2006 with Cpl. David Stidman and others in his platoon
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, here are three sobering
- In 2009, 10,839 people died in drunken driving crashes – one
every 50 minutes.
- One in 3 people will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at
- An average drunken driver has driven while drunk 87 times before
his first arrest.
During this holiday break, with New Year’s parties moving fast on
the horizon, there’s no better time to join the fight against drunken
drivers. Here’s what you can do.
First, check out MADD’s website. which shows how
safe the roads are in your state; you may be shocked. The site also gives
some action keys so that you can help to make those roads safer.
Second, if you’re a sober driver on the road over the holidays,
please be very careful as you travel. At all times of the day, keep an eye
out on those in your total range of vision, including in your vehicle’s
Third, don’t be naive or dumb; don’t drink and drive. And don’t even
think you can. A one-time mistake could cost you the rest of your life, as
well as take the life of another.
Consider trying an alcohol-free New Year’s Eve. Train yourself to
understand that you don’t need alcohol to have a great time. If you do
drink, do so in moderation. And if you attend parties serving alcohol and
you have no plans for moderation, then designate a sober driver before you
David Stidman and his father, Dwayne Stidman, on one of their countless
Tragically, too many people who drink don’t ask for a designated
driver and don’t tell anyone whether and when they are drinking too much.
Well, the way I see it is: If you don’t ask and don’t tell, then don’t
drink! If you can’t responsibly handle the alcohol, then you shouldn’t
handle it at all.
Fourth, please join Dwayne in his quest to crack down on drunken
drivers, at DavidStidman.com.
With others’ help, Dwayne is trying to get stricter laws, get police
to enforce the drinking laws we already have, and keep drunken drivers and
repeat offenders from even making plea bargains. The judges and judicial
system need to protect the innocent more than they do the guilty.
Dwayne also is working on a video that helps the victims of drunken
drivers by providing information to help them cope with their losses, about
casualty assistance, on where to find legal advice and even on how to find
military support groups.
In short, Dwayne is trying to prevent other families from suffering
through a holiday season like the one he’s going through, one without the
physical presence of a loved one. As he put it, “we went to war over (about
3,000) Americans killed on Sept. 11, 2001, yet we allow drunks to get behind
the wheel of a vehicle and take the lives of 11,773 Americans (of the 13,896
alcohol-related deaths, as reported in 2008). And let’s not forget the
thousands more injured. Due to these weak laws currently in place and the
lack of enforcement by the courts, thousands more will spend the rest of
their lives in sorrow coping with the loss of their loved ones. … We need
change! … I will not allow (David’s) sacrifice to fall on deaf ears.
laws must be changed and enforced to save the lives of thousands of
Americans in the years to come. I hope you feel the same as I do.”