With an auditorium of eyes focused on her, Molly Burton hopes some of her words will resonate – even if it changes the minds of only a handful of students.
“I’m hoping that the effect of today … is powerful enough that it sticks with these kids and hopefully impacts them in a way where they won’t make that decision to drink and drive or get in the car with someone who has been drinking and driving. Even if just a few of them are changed, then it’s worth it for me.”
Burton, a Comox resident who was struck while walking along Comox (Dyke) Road two years ago, took to the stage at Mark. R. Isfeld school Monday afternoon, as part of a speaking event through MADD Canada – Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Students also watched a video called 24 Hours, produced by the organization, which follows a group of students about to graduate make a series of choices that lead to deadly results. Burton noted she is hoping to have an impact on the students, and also bring awareness to the recently-created Comox Valley MADD chapter.
“I’ve been to a few of the victim survivor conferences through MADD and hearing all of the other stories, it makes me feel like this is a really important message to get across because I know there are so many victims out there who have suffered the consequences of somebody else’s poor choice,” she said.
She added with a lot of small communities across Vancouver Island, drinking and driving affects everyone.
“It has a huge impact in our community. I feel it’s really important to have a MADD chapter where victims can reach out to it locally.”
On Sept. 11, 2013, Burton suffered injuries to her lower right leg and right arm which required multiple surgeries when she was struck by a vehicle driven by a youth who ‘shotgunned’ two beers prior to driving down Comox Road.
Burton’s mother Leslie Wells, the newly-appointed president of the local MADD chapter, said after Molly was injured, she was feeling “angry and frustrated at the situation and there wasn’t anything to do with that. I really believe if you can find a constructive venue for that anger, some good can come out of it.”
Wells reached out to MADD Canada, and she noted the support from the organization was overwhelming.
MADD flew Burton and Wells to Toronto two years in a row for their annual victims conference, and supported Molly and her family.
As a result, both Wells and Burton were inspired to begin the local chapter.
“(We wanted to look at) how to make connections and how to reach out to the community. The main purpose of MADD is of course, supporting the victims … but education is too and whatever assistance we can offer to groups who are already involved (RCMP, Victim Services),” Wells added.
For more information on MADD Comox Valley, visit maddchapters.ca/comoxvalley