Archive for August, 2010

Our university towns and state college towns are growing this week with the onset of classes and the student population back in town.   There are the traditional challenges : parking space is limited and more cars, all the grocery stores seem to be buzzing and the empty nest is a reality once again! 

Our kids are now young adults. That is my point here.  The first six weeks of school could very well make or break the next four years ahead for your student.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that the first 6 weeks of the first semester are critical to a first-year student’s academic success. Because many students initiate heavy drinking during these early days of college, the potential exists for excessive alcohol consumption to interfere with successful adaptation to campus life. The transition to college is often difficult and about one-third of first-year students fail to enroll for their second year.  

As parents we want our young adults to succeed but it is important to maintain some contact to ensure that your student gets acclimated into a healthy and happy life style.

One way to support that from a far is to check in with the kids to see how their classes are going and set a planned time to call – that way you can reach them and stay connected. 

During these crucial early weeks, as parents you can do a variety of things to stay involved. Parents you may want to inquire about campus alcohol policies, call your sons and daughters frequently, and ask about roommates and living arrangements.

Also discuss with your young adult the penalties for underage drinking (both on and off campus) as well as how alcohol use can lead to date rape, violence, and academic failure.


Your involvement will secure for your young adult a happy and healthy academic life on campus!


“Drinking is an emotional thing. It joggles you out of everyday life, out of everything being the same. It yanks you out of your body and your mind and throws you against the wall. I have the feeling that drinking is a form of suicide where you’re allowed to return to life and begin all over the next day.”   
 — Charles Bukowski

            For many individuals, drinking is an emotional thing but unlike the quote above, it is disturbing because over the next year in the United States the lives of 11, 773 individuals and their families will never return to normal. In the past week alone, the Midwest has suffered greatly due to the irresponsibility of drunk drivers. Within 48 hours, five individuals and their families were shattered when two drunk drivers swerved into oncoming traffic. For the five men who were sons, husbands, fathers, grandfathers, and brothers – they will never have a chance to “begin all over the next day.” For the families members left in desolation, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) can help put the pieces back together by offering support and services to the victims at no charge. However not everyone dies when they are hit by a drunk driver, MADD estimates that every minute, one person is injured by a drunk driver.
            As the Miss Nebraska ANTSO titleholder, drinking and driving prevention and awareness is my platform. After losing my best friend, Morgan Hohnbaum, and her boyfriend, Josh Milana, to a drunk driver three years ago, I can still remember initial sadness and hurt that overwhelmed me.  Since their deaths, I have been determined to make a difference. Sadly, Omaha has experienced more drunk driving fatalities than homicides. At ANTSO Nationals in July, I was the first Nebraska titleholder to place in the Top 10 based on my platform, and brought national attention to the issues in Omaha and how drinking and driving can impact an individual, a school, a business, and a community. I am proud to announce the 2nd Annual Fashion Victim Show 2010 sponsored by MADD Nebraska and UNO Midnight Mojo on Thursday, September 30 at 7pm in the Holiday Inn Midtown Ballroom in Omaha, NE. Fashion Victim is
an injury prevention program showcasing a diverse panel of speakers combined with a fashion show as a fundraiser for MADD Nebraska. This event is designed to provide Omaha’s youth with a fun and educational alternative to drinking. All donations go to MADD and are spent locally on prevention efforts.
            By sponsoring Fashion Victim Show, you can help reach our mission of eliminating drunk driving,  ensure that MADD can continue to offer free services, and support our community victims and survivors of drunk

driving. October also happens to be MADD’s Alcohol Awareness Month and Fashion Victim Show 2010 serves as a outstanding Kickoff Event. Last year alone, Fashion Victim impacted 350 guests and raised nearly $8,000, all of which was donated in memory of Morgan and Josh to MADD Nebraska to be used locally.
        Please help save lives and eliminate drunk driving! Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to working with you.   Visit:


                                                                                    Amy Wieczorek
                                                                                    Miss Nebraska ANTSO National Miss 2010

As we prepare for school from kindergarten to college, I thought I would share a new program that MADD has to help parents talk to their children (young or old) about the dangers of alcohol.  Your voice does matter!

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Nationwide Insurance launched “The Power of Parents, It’s Your Influence by MADD™”  to give parents of high school students the communication tools they need to stop teen alcohol use.  The program features resources at    A GfK Roper Youth Report showed 74% of kids (age 8-17) said their parents are the leading influence on their decisions about drinking.  Data also shows that a zero tolerance message from parents to teens is the most effective in deterring underage drinking and it also supports the lifesaving 21 drinking age law, which is in all 50 states.

Dr. Turrisi said, “As a parent and a scientist, I am proud to be a partner with MADD and completely support the work being done on:  MADD’s goals of improving the lives of children and families are noble and their efforts to achieve these goals draw on the best of what prevention science has to offer.  I strongly believe that MADD’s efforts will tip the balance of the scales in the favor of families in the fight against underage drinking and drunk driving.” 

MADD Nebraska  staff will be trained in Washington, D.C. in September on:”The Power of Parents” Its Your Influence.  To be trained: Simera Reynolds, State Executive Director and Sara Magnus, Volunteer Resource Coordinator.  We are both looking forward to the education component and the opportunity to bring this tool home to our state. By working with Dr. Turrisi, we can work to save lives in our state.

MADD’s program The Power of Parents, It’s Your Influence™ is supported by National PTA, the largest child advocacy association in the country, who will share these resources with its members.  The program is also supported by National Presenting Sponsor Nationwide Insurance and Contributing Sponsor Volkswagen. 

7 Tips for Getting Through To Your Teen
 1)    Communicate before a problem starts

  • Have important discussions now, before there’s blaming, anger, or punishments.
  • Agree on a time to start talking together about alcohol’s dangers.

2)    Discuss rules and consequences

  • Explain how you expect your son or daughter to act, and why.
  • Tell your teen plainly that you don’t want him or her drinking. 
  • Agree on consequences of broken rules.

3)    Show you care

  • Gently touch your teen on the arm or back to show affection. 
  • Tell your teen, “You love them and want them to be healthy and safe. Explain that’s why you need to talk together about the dangers of underage drinking.”
 4)    Pay attention

  • Even when life gets hectic, take time out to listen to your teen.
  • Monitor where your teen is and what your teen is doing, constantly.

5)    Share family activities

  • Have dinner together at least three times a week.

6)     Give and get respect

  • When your teen talks to you, listen and reply respectfully.
  • Insist that your teen treat you with respect, too.

7)     Enforce consequences consistently

  • If your teen breaks the rules, stay calm and enforce the consequences.


In Nebraska, our hearts go out to the many families who now have had their lives forever changed due to an impaired driving crash that was senseless and 100% preventable.  The families, friends, neighbors and all of the community is left shocked, bereaved and devastated.

For the victim/survivor families, they  have to face the emotional loss, legal jargon (that most of us never want to know) and a financial climb that is daunting at the very least. 

MADD Victim Services offers emotional support, information, and guidance on the long road through court to those impacted by the violent crime of impaired driving.   MADD provides these services free of charge and are provided by a trained victim advocate. MADD Nebraska – 800-444-6233.

One of the very hardest parts about a drunk driving crash is the fact that there was “No Time For Goodbyes”.  Here at MADD we understand the pain and hurt caused by a drunk driver. 

Our mission is: to sop drunk driving, support those impacted by this violent crime and prevent underage drinking.

Victim/Survivor Helpline

Call 1-877-MADD-HELP (877-623-3435) to speak with a Victim Advocate. 


Find brochures and  articles that might be helpful.


Connect with victims/survivors nationwide. Share your story in a password-protected forum.

Moderated chat: 
Mondays – 7:00 p.m. CT
Thursdays – 8:30 p.m. CT

Wednesdays – Spanish – 8:30 p.m. CT

July 17, 1984 the 40th President of the United States saw the importance of signing the 21 law to stop the :”crazy quilt of States’ drinking laws and far too many blood borders, borders where teens drive across to reach States’ with lower drinking ages”

While the 21 law is in tact,  here in Nebraska, we face county blood borders as each county and city independently decide to implement or turn down the 2 am bar closing. Creating, for the entire state, a public health issue.

Just as President Reagan publicly stated at the White House signing of the National Minimum Drinking Age Law, “this is a problem bigger than the individual states” so too is this law (2 am bar closing)  a problem bigger than one county. This law is a state problem for all of us and MADD will ask the Unicameral leaders to step up and fix the law. Clearly, the motoring public would benefit from a “uniform” bar closing that is mandated by the state.  There are times when we appreciate local control but just as President Reagan looked at the greater good for the nation, we too must look at the greater good for the state.

Nebraskans should  contact their state senator and let them know that we do not want county blood borders. 

Nebraskans deserve a Uniform state law for the sale of alcohol.

  Your voice does matter – this is a good time to use it!



Fred Zwonechek, Sally Ganem & Simera Reynolds

Several of us are headed out on Saturday to go to a race at Junction Motor Speedway at McCool Junction to watch the MADD Race Car!  Huge thanks go to Gary and Donna Cooper for having a race car with the MADD brand, an alcohol free race pit and for treating thousands to the MADD race car through community events and the state fair. 

Gary talking to students about MADD

 This is a great example of turning one of your passions into an educational tool that serves you and the community.  Gary and Donna have worked hard to support MADD, provide another avenue to stop drunk driving and underage drinking  and they always have fun along the way.

To find out about the driver and the team take a minute and check out car 55:

I want to encourage everyone to come and see us at the raceway this Saturday. Thanks to the sponsors that support Gary & Donna and provide an avenue of learning. Many times I say we are in this together – Gary & Donna have proven we are not only in this for our passion but for the friendships forged along the way.

The fun begins at 7:00 PM and I am looking forward to watching a win for MADD on the race track this week-end. A BIG thanks to Cooper Racing for the years of support and fun that they have provided to MADD and our many communities across the state.