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Nonprofit View: Catherine's Cause working to keep the roads safer

Don’t drink and drive.

It is a plea we have all heard a million times but yet, sadly, many still choose to make the dangerous, irresponsible and selfish decision to drive after drinking. This is a decision that can have catastrophic, devastating and deadly consequences.

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Every year in the United States approximately 10,000 people are killed and over 300,000 are injured, paralyzed, disabled, disfigured or burned in a crash involving a drunk driver. Each one is 100% preventable.

Phil and Cindy Mullikin, of Manchester, know these statistics all too well. The day after Thanksgiving 1998, their beautiful, charismatic daughter, Catherine, who was just 20 years old and in college pursuing a teaching degree, was killed by a man who made this deadly choice.

As a way to honor Catherine, and do all they could to prevent any other person from ever having to feel the same pain and grief they have experienced, they began volunteering for Mother’s Against Drunk Driving. In 2006, MADD reorganized and left Carroll County. Phil and Cindy felt they could do a similar program and decided to fill that void, and so began Catherine’s Cause.

Catherine’s Cause is a 503c nonprofit organization that is committed to the education of people convicted of DUI or DWI, as well to students, the community and local groups. Victim Impact Forums, which offenders are court ordered to attend, are held every other month at the Carroll County Non Profit Center. The panel of volunteers who come to speak at the forum include, police officers, paramedics, victims, and friends and family members of those who have lost their lives.

All monies collected through the forums are given back to the community in the form of grants to various organizations such as Maryland Special Olympics, to local law enforcement for training, educational classes and equipment such as breathalyzers, accident reconstruction and audio/visual equipment, and additionally, many scholarships are awarded each year to young people here in Carroll County who wish to become teachers, just like Catherine did.

Each December, Catherine’s Cause hosts a Remembrance Ceremony to honor and remember all those killed on Carroll County Roads. This candle lighting ceremony is attended by victim’s families and friends, many community, state and local representatives, Carroll County Law Enforcement agencies, as well as the Maryland State Police and the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office. Sheriff Jim DeWees and former Westminster Police Chief Jeff Spaulding have alternated being the master of ceremonies each year.

Each and every life is precious and we cannot afford to lose a single one to a drunk driver. Catherine’s Cause is dedicated to doing our part to making our roads safer for all and helping to save lives but we cannot do it alone. As they say, it takes a village. Do your part by offering to be a designated driver, plan ahead and make arrangements for a safe ride home before your festivities, take personal responsibility for your actions and make a commitment to always make good choices and help others do the same. Together, we can make a difference.

For more information about Catherine’s Cause you can go to www.catherinescause.com. You can contact us via email at info@catherinescause.com or call (410) 374-8987.

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