How the M.A.D.D. Red Deer & District Chapter Got Started

As written by Mary Williams

We were living in Ontario, when a drunk driver killed our sixteen year old son, Andy, who was riding his bicycle on a bicycle path, on July 3, 1986. The drunk driver had over three times the legal amount of alcohol in his system, his excuse? He had a fight with his girl friend. William Louis Postle 33, was charged with dangerous driving causing death, impaired driving causing death, and blood alcohol over the legal limit. The part time assistant Crown attorney Mark Adamson, withdrew the charges of dangerous driving causing death, impaired driving causing death and blood alcohol over the legal limit, and proceeded with impaired driving, only. When the judge inquired if there was a death involved, Mr. Adamson replied “There was an unfortunate fatality,” this was the only reference made to the death of our son, Andrew. Mr. Adamson refused to meet with us at any time, so after we talked to the Attorney General, things began to happen. Mr. Adamson was taken off the case, and was relieved of his position as part time assistant Crown attorney of Hamilton Wentworth replaced Mr. Adamson at the sentencing. Postle received 30 month, this was little comfort to us. This case was later referred to in the Hamilton Spectator, as a travesty of justice! I Joined a Bereaved Parents group, but found it didn’t really apply to my needs’, I then joined P.R.I.D.E. (Persons to Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) and received a lot of help and support from one of their members, Helen Collum, who had also lost a son to a drunk driver. I was asked to donate a couple of photos of Andy for a video that P.R.I.D.E. and the Toronto police were putting together, which I did. In 1990 my husband Raymond, and son Joe and I moved to Red Deer, Alberta. That summer the Toronto police sent me a copy of the video, “Missing You”. In 1991 I took my video to the local R.C.M.P. detachment to see if they could use it in their school presentations, and ended up being asked to join the R.C.M.P Victims Services Unit, which I did. In May 1993 I received an invitation to attend the first annual conference of M.A.D.D. Canada, in Toronto, all expenses paid. At this time I was approached to open a chapter in Red Deer. With the help and encouragement of the members of the R.C.M.P, my fellow Victim Service Advisors, and my family, I started the first chapter of M.A.D.D. Canada, West of Ontario, for a long time we were known as “the only chapter in the west”! Const. Dave Kingston helped me to write my first news paper article, saying that I planned to open a chapter here in Red Deer, and that I was looking for people to work with me, he also introduced me to Sergeant Mel Williams of the traffic division, who helped me in many ways, including allowing our M.A.D.D. members to go out on check stops with the R.C.M. P. members and hand out Red Ribbons, he also wrote me a letter to introduce me to different business and organizations, telling them that the R.C.M.P were in full support of the M.A.D.D. program. I started out alone with no financial help, one of my biggest challenges was to explain what M.A.D.D stood for, it was new in Canada, but once people knew what it was about they were interested. I worked closely with Lisa Waywell from head office, in Toronto. On her advice we set a date for our inaugural meeting. My insurance broker, Mike Mooney, offered me the use of his photo copier. I needed a road banner to advertise the Inaugural meeting, so armed with my letter from Sergent Williams and one from Lisa I headed out. My fist attempt to solicit funds was the D.A.A. I met with the general manager Greg Demuynck, I pleaded my case and he said he would think about it, so I said “Oh.” Then he sat down with this head in his hands and said “I don’t know what I would do if a drunk hit my wife,” so I said “How would feel if a drunk killed your son?” He looked at me and said “Go and order your banner, and have all the bills sent to me.” I thanked him, and as I left the office, he said “After you have your inaugural meeting, if there is anything else you need, come and see me, “We designed our banner, and had it made by Express Signage. By this time I realized we needed some written information on what M.A.D.D was all about, so I went through all the information I had, and designed my own pamphlets (at this time there was nothing like this at head office). My son Joe and his friend Dave Best did he design set up for me. I made copies of these on Mr. Mooney’s copier and left them in strategic places, including all the funeral homes. I then decided we should have M.A.D.D. pins, which I designed with the help of L.A. Mint in Lacombe (we even sent head office some of our pins, at their request as they didn’t have any yet!). About this time I began to get my first members! My first member was Const. Dave Hall, of the traffic division, I shall never forget it, I was doing my shift on the Victim’s Service Unit when he came over to me and said” I am not a mother, but could I join your group?” He proved to be an invaluable member, not only for his expert knowledge of the law and judicial system, but he agreed to be our M.C. for the inaugural meeting, he also became our M.C. at the Candlelight Vigil for at least thirteen years, a position he filled with reverence and dignity, even after he was posted to Marthorpe. My next member was Gwen Wilson from the V.S.U. she became our secretary, and did a fantastic job for us, including the original typing of these notes! Thanks Gwen! Without them it would be impossible to compose this history of our chapter! Jean Kovak was the next to come on board as our treasurer. I was now beginning to feel elated; it was just great to have these three people with such enthusiasm, at the end of the phone ready to discuss anything at any time! It had been hard work doing it alone! We got down to the job of planning our inaugural meeting; we had our first chapter meeting on September 2, 1993, at the Provincial Building. By this time Rose Roy had joined us and taken the position of Vice President of Victim Assistance. We had eight members turn up for our first meeting, Dave, Gwen, Jean, Rose, Joan Darcy and Edith Steel (who had both lost children to drunk drivers). My husband Raymond and myself in the position of President. Dave was away teaching a breathalyzer course for two weeks, but he made he made special arrangements to come back just for that evening. Thank you, Dave. We set the date for the inaugural meeting for September 22 1993. We invited the local dignitaries, Mayor Gail Surkan said she would be glad to attend and would speak for us, M.P. Doug Fee also agreed to attend, Raymond and I dropped into meet him at the Farmer’s Market the week before the meeting. He told us he wanted to become involved because thirteen years ago his daughter had been killed by a drunk driver. The Honorable Stockwell Day, Minister of Labor, wanted to attend, but was in session, he asked me to go and meet with him in his office. He was very interested and wanted to become a member, he said he would put a red ribbon on the desk of every member of the legislature. Victor Doerksen MLA also asked me to meet with him in his office, which I did. He also became a member. The inaugural meeting went off very well; we held it at the Michener Recreation Center. It was great to see Doug Fee pitching in and helping Raymond put up the stands and the posters. We started the meeting with O Canada, then prayers with Canon Gordon Dixon, the Mayor, Doug Fee, Sergeant Williams, Lynn Perry standing in for Stockwell Day and Shauna Fox for the PARTY Program. We showed the video Missing You, and then Lisa Wawell did an informal talk followed by questions and answers. Refreshments followed, including doughnuts donated by Time Horton’s. We had media coverage with RDTV and one of the radio stations. All in all we felt it was a great success. After the inaugural meeting it was time to jump right in to Project Red Ribbon. This quite a big undertaking as, our boxes came flat and we had to assemble them. There was no paper work to go with the ribbons, so we designed special little information tags to attach to each ribbon, and the ribbons came in a great big spool, approximately 24 “ in diameter!! Raymond spent hours and hours cutting those ribbons for us, talk about unsung heroes! This was really our first chance to make some money for our chapter, as we were allowed to keep the money we made on our fist Project Red Ribbon. We all worked hard putting our boxes and collecting the money. I had many calls from the police detachments all over the province wanting to know where they could get the Red Ribbons, some of them came to my house to collect them, some we delivered by the Highway Patrol, and others I sent by buss, it was a busy time! Our final challenge for the year was the Candle Light Vigil, this is a very special time for the families of victims for impaired drivers, a time to get together and remember our loved ones, and light a candle in their memory. Mr. Vicar, Canon Gordon Dixon offered the use of our church, Saint Luke’s Anglican Church, for the service, it is a lovely old church and perfect for our cause. Dave was M.C. we invited ministers from different faith to assist at the service, and I think most of the religions were represented! We had members from our R.C.M.P. detachment to accompany our victim’s families to light their candles. We concluded the service with every one leaving the church carrying a candle with had been lit from Andy’s candle which I had been given when I attend the first Canadian Candlelight Vigil in Toronto. The most memorable thing for me about the Vigil was meeting a young boy, and his aunt, his aunt told me that Jason had always wanted to light a candle for h is Mom and Dad and his uncle and aunt who had all been killed in an accident, but until now they had not been able to find any where to do this, she said it meant so much to them both. Fourteen years later I believe Jason has only missed one Vigil, which was when he was away in college; his aunt has never missed a vigil. It is stories like this which make all the hard work worth while. It is very different starting up today, as there are grants from head office, all the paperwork you need, pins, etc, just for the ordering. But it was an experience I shall never forget, and I have never regretted accepting the challenge! I want to say a heartfelt “Thank you “to all those great people who worked with me to make Red Deer & District Chapter a success. Respectfully Submitted by Mary E. Williams How the MADD Red Deer & District Chapter Started by Mary Williams Sept., 2, 1993 Page 1