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July 20, 2017 -- A sobering message

This morning we honored one of our esteemed members, Norm Townsend, for his 20 years as a member of our Kiwanis Club. Norm has been a board member many times, treasurer of our foundation, and an enthusiastic volunteer at our many service projects and fundraising efforts.  We all rely heavily on Norm’s expertise in finance and his knowledge of the best practices of our club.  Membership chair John Crawford presented Norm with a certificate of appreciation that Norm so richly deserves!

President Kathy Wiskur welcomed Jesus "G-Bus" Aguilar, Lieutenant Governor for the SDSU Circle K club, and four of Patrick Henry High School’s Key Clubbers (Bill, Christine, Brandon, and Long).  We appreciate the dedication of these student leaders and are always glad when they join us!  Chris Holbrook stopped in for a short visit before racing across the street to his new place of business, Grocery Outlet. He and his wife, Gay, are very busy preparing for their grand opening in two weeks! 

Kathy also helped us plan for the Kaiser Kids picnic this Saturday at Mission Bay. We will be serving lunch to the pediatric cancer patients and their families to celebrate the great successes the Pediatric Oncology Department has enjoyed in conquering this formidable enemy.

Our Kiwanian of the Day was Jim Akin. He recently spent two weeks enjoying the beauty and wonders of the Sierra Nevadas. He shared with us some fascinating information on this 400 mile-long mountain range.  Mount Whitney is the highest peak in the contiguous United States, standing at over 14,000 feet above sea level, and still growing, as two massive tectonic plates collide causing fault block uplifting.  Jim also shared with us the number of animal encounters he experienced, including several bears! Luckily he knows how to remain at a safe distance... and how not to feed the bears!

Today's guest speaker gave us a very sobering presentation, but one that gave us all a greater appreciation for some of the important things in life that we take for granted.  Larry McNamer was an ordinary father and husband when in the summer of 1993, he received the phone call that is any parent's worst nightmare.  Larry's 15-year-old son, Sean, had been walking home from a 7-11 with his friend Tyler, when the two boys were killed by a drunk driver.  The driver of the vehicle, a 27-year-old mother of three, had a blood alcohol level more than three times the legal limit.

In the twenty-plus years since his son was tragically and needlessly taken, Mr. McNamer has worked relentlessly with the California Highway Patrol, the California Office of Traffic Safety, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to spread awareness of the dangers and consequences that can result from driving under the influence.  McNamer and other volunteers with the "Every 15 Minutes" program partner with these organizations, plus other law enforcement agencies, courts, and even mortuaries to bring awareness to teen drivers.  These agencies and volunteers use actual vehicles to stage an incredibly realistic simulation of a DUI accident scene in conjunction with high schools throughout California.  Student volunteers in the 11th and 12th grade are used as actors, to portray injured drivers and passengers in a two-vehicle head-on collision.

In each simulated accident, the audience sees actual emergency responders tending to the scene, including Highway Patrol officers, paramedics, tow vehicles, and medical examiners.  The attention to detail really sells this simulation.  Student participants meet with professional makeup artists (sometimes even local morticians!) to create convincing injuries for the accident scene.  Each student is assigned a role ahead of the demonstration.  One passenger involved is "killed" on scene, having been ejected through the front windshield of the car.  Other students receive treatment for their "injuries," while one is even taken to a real hospital for a very realistic death scene.  Immediate family members, in on the act from the very beginning,nonetheless find it to be a very jarring experience when they receive that harrowing phone call from the state troopers, notifying them of the accident.  Every aspect of this simulation -- including a DUI arrest and a visit to the courthouse for the at-fault driver -- is done with a heavy dose of realism, and a very serious tone.  The emergency responders and government agencies involved provide their services at no cost, fully realizing the benefit of this program to the general public. 

Larry pointed out that while a vehicular homicide is a felony, even a first offense for DUI can cost a person more than $15,000 and over a year of legal hassles! 

For parents like Larry who have lost loved ones in real-life DUI accidents, nothing can truly heal their wounds and replace what has been lost from their own family.  However, programs such as "Every 15 Minutes" give us hope that the younger generation of drivers will make better choices before they get into the car while impaired or intoxicated.

This was an incredibly emotional presentation, one that literally moved some of our members to tears.  We thank Larry for the time he spends speaking to teens and helping other families avoid the very personal and preventable tragedy that he suffered many years ago.

 

Kiwanian of the Day Jim Akin and guest speaker Larry McNamer.

Guest speaker Larry McNamer endured a horrific personal tragedy over twenty years ago when his 15-year-old son was killed by a drunk driver.  Today, he speaks to high school students about the dangers of driving while under the influence.

Membership Chair John Crawford recognizes and congratulates Norm Townsend for twenty years of membership and service to our Kiwanis Club.

Club President Kathy Wiskur enjoys a delicious and healthy bowl of oatmeal for breakfast!