Today was a memorable day for the over 500 students who filled Ballard High School auditorium to hear UW Huskies’ tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and group of community members speak about the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The assembly was a moving event that allowed all audience members to grasp the dire consequences that can result of making poor decisions before getting behind the wheel.
The assembly started with the emotional and intimate perspective of local mom Kelly Jones who tragically lost her son Kellen Jones in an alcohol related car accident outside Ballard Taco Time restaurant on April 4, 2010. Jones wanted students to hear the important message “from the heart of a mom” and impacted the attentive audience with images of the accident scene and the response of family and friends to the tragic deaths. “You have the obligation to yourself and to your family and friends to drive and ride responsibly,” said Jones to the students. Since the tragedy, Jones founded the Drive. Ride. Responsibly. campaign to spread awareness of the importance of both driving and riding responsibly.
Students then heard from Seferian-Jenkins’ arresting officer Erik Mitchell who spoke about the issue of DUI from the SPD’s perspective. “My job is prevention,” says Mitchell. “Every time I make a DUI arrest before a collision it is a win.” Mitchell encouraged students to think before making poor decisions and reminded them that “jail time will not fix your conscience or repair the damage you create when getting behind the wheel under the influence.”
After Mitchell’s presentation the audience then heard from Seferian-Jenkins’ DUI lawyer Bill Kirk who encouraged everyone in the room to make good decisions and put guys like him out of business.
Seferian-Jenkins shared his emotional experience with DUI after pleading guilty to drink driving when he was involved in a one car accident in Ravenna in March this year. “I felt that I was invincible and that it couldn’t happen to me,” says Seferian-Jenkins. He reflected on the impact of the incident in his life and pointed to the pain of seeing his mom’s face when he was charged with DUI. Although, he had to go to jail and received a $695 fine “it could have been a lot worse,” he says.
“It was the most humbling experience and make me think about my own life,” says Seferian-Jenkins. “I wanted to share my experience with the students to do better for the community and help prevent these things from happening to other people.”
While the event was directed to a high school audience, all members of our community are in need of this importance message, especially as the holiday season approaches. Remember to be responsible when getting behind the wheel and make alternative arrangements for transport if you plan to drink.
You can also do your part in helping Jones spread awareness about the importance of driving and riding responsibly by tweeting #driveandrideresponsibly and linking the campaign page on Facebook.
If you would like to have Jones speak at your community group or school about the dangers of drunk driving email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. “If the talks prevent one family or person from going through this it is worth it,” says Jones.