Celebrate My Drive should be personal for Demopolis community

An innovative initiative sponsored by State Farm is allowing two high schools to win a concert from Grammy winner Kelly Clarkson, 10 schools to win $100,000 and 90 schools to win $25,000.

The project, Celebrate My Drive, is designed to educate teens and communities on the hazards of teen driving. It provides statistics and information regarding better driving habits and encourages teens and other community members to take a pledge to practice safe driving habits.

Anyone with an email address can log on to CelebrateMyDrive.com and fill out a pledge each day between now and Saturday, Oct. 26 to support Demopolis High School in its quest to reach one of these great prizes.

And while it is certainly good to take the few seconds to fill out the pledge each day, Celebrate My Drive should be about more than prizes to the Demopolis community.

In the last five months, Marengo County has lost three of its brightest young people in automobile accidents. It is estimated that some 5,000 drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 die each year in car crashes while the CDC reports another 282,000 are treated for injuries stemming from such accidents.

And while those numbers are staggering, our community knows all too well the pain of losing just one teenager to such an accident.

In May, we mourned the loss of Demopolis High School’s Cody Webb, who perished in a car accident on his way to school. His jersey still hangs on the sidelines during Demopolis High football games. His name is still fresh on the minds of so many friends and classmates he touched regularly.

And Labor Day weekend brought more tragedy to our part of the world when Demopolis Middle School student C.J. Boykin and recent Linden High grad Anthony Robinson were killed in a car accident on a Sunday afternoon.

Three people who, by all accounts, had plenty left to contribute to the world, to our community and to their families are gone as the result of car accidents. And while perfect driving habits still may not have prevented these accidents, they certainly provide the best opportunity for teen drivers to reach their destination safely.

That is exactly what Celebrate My Drive is trying to do, make sure teen drivers are equipped with all the knowledge and skills they need to make it to their destination and back home safely every time they get behind the wheel. It is a vast undertaking, but it is one that is certainly worthwhile.

So log on to CelebrateMyDrive.com each day between now and Saturday and take the pledge, not because you want Demopolis High to win money or a concert, but because you know personally how important this cause is. Do it because no mother should have to lose her child to a car accident. Do it because Cody Webb, C.J. Boykin and Anthony Robinson are not statistics, but they do comprise a short list to which we never want to see another name added.

And long after this campaign is over, employ safe driving habits and encourage your children and other young people you know to practice the same things. Put down the phone. Leave the radio alone. And focus on the road.

Don’t take these losses for granted. Take the time. Sign the pledge. Celebrate your drive.