Just one year ago, two of my fraternity brothers, Hunter Watson and Vinny Maugeri, both died in separate car crashes due to distraction. Hunter, who was my age at the time of his death, was an energetic, fun-loving, and extremely caring person. Those close to Vinny say that he was one of the most loving, personable, and optimistic people that they had ever met.
At the age of 20, dealing with the death of a friend, let alone somebody my age, was devastating. My very supportive family and friends helped me through this difficult time, yet the sense of confusion still lingered. I quickly realized that both Hunter and Vinny’s deaths were preventable, and I knew that I wanted to help raise awareness about the consequences of distracted driving. I also knew I wanted to properly honor both of their legacies. My fraternity brothers and I put our heads together and came to the mutual conclusion that dedicating our philanthropic efforts to a cause that we all cared deeply about was a way for us to both honor Hunter and Vinny, and help spread awareness about the responsibilities that we all take on by getting behind the wheel of a car.
Last fall, we planned a weeklong philanthropy event aimed at bringing the Syracuse University community together to honor our fallen brothers’ legacies and to promote safe-driving education. We called it “Safe Driving Week,” and held events such as a candlelight vigil, fundraising around campus, social media awareness campaigns, and a fall festival community event that celebrated the lives of our fallen brothers. The event was extremely successful, and we were able to raise close to $10,000, all of which was donated to the National Safety Council.
After seeing the positive impact last year’s event had on the Syracuse University community and beyond, we decided that Safe Driving Week would become an annual event. This year, from October 10-13, our fraternity held its second annual Safe Driving Week. As a senior, I wanted to ensure that this week was as impactful and successful as last year’s, if not more so. This year, our fraternity raised more than $13,000, all of which will again be donated to the National Safety Council. The Council will be using these funds to help promote safe driving to people of all ages around the country.
Educating today’s young drivers about the many dangers and risks of distracted driving is extremely important. Please help spread this story as far and wide as possible, and together we can help prevent such tragedies from occurring. No one should have to go through what my fraternity brothers and I went through last year, and no parent should have to bury his or her child.