MADD strives for a change

Had he lived, Blair MacKenzie would have celebrated his 39th birthday today.

Had he lived, Blair MacKenzie would have celebrated his 39th birthday today.

Even 18 years after the death of the promising Carleton University economics student and football player, his mother, Colleen MacKenzie, can’t forget.

Blair was killed after the car he was a passenger in fell into a ravine after the driver allegedly fell asleep at the wheel.

“It’s been 18 years, but it never goes away,” she said. “Every day, there is something that reminds me (of him).”

Three years after his death, MacKenzie was one of five people — each whose lives were affected by an impaired driver — who got together to form the Ottawa chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

“That’s why I’m involved,” she said, “to be the voice of people who no longer have a voice.

“I realized we all use the roads and we want to make them as safe as possible. We’re passionate about the same purpose — safety, and safety for our youth. Youth are the future. This is investing in our future.”

A fundraiser for the organization, the MADD Dash: Strides for Change, was held in Kanata yesterday.

The money raised will go towards education and supporting those who have been victimized by impaired driving, said MacKenzie.

Whenever MADD does one of its displays, MacKenzie is astonished by the number of people who have a story to tell.

MADD Ottawa president Tom Wainwright is one of these people.

His wife’s nephew, Michael MacLean, was 20 years old and had just graduated from paramedic school when he and his girlfriend were killed after being struck by an impaired driver in Nova Scotia.

The death “affected his family greatly,” said Wainwright. “You look at things differently after. It changes your whole perspective.”

MADD isn’t just about ending drunk driving, but impaired driving.

In Canada, four people are killed and 207 injured as a result of impaired driving every day, said Wainwright.

In Blair MacKenzie’s case, the driver was fatigued, MacKenzie said. Whether it’s driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, medication, while fatigued or while emotionally distraught, it’s all impairment, she said.