Posts Tagged ‘Nebraska First Lady Sally Ganem’

Trooper Downing and First Lady Sally Ganem

Wow what a week last week was for our MADD State Office!  On Tuesday we held our 12th annual “Outstanding Law Enforcement Awards & Recognition” in LaVista and Iowa law enforcement joined our event too.  It was a pleasure to see more than 25 awards handed out to deserving individuals that work tirelessly to ensure that we have safe roads to travel home on each and every day.
MADD appreciates the  financial support from Bob Batt to make this event a reality and we really appreciate the support of the family members of the winners as they pay a price that we, the public, will never understand but we do appreciate.  There was much fun to be had on Tuesday and the Candy Bar was a hit again. Thanks to our signature sponsor No Frills.
Next, there was the signing of LB 667 into law by the Governor.  A comprehensive piece of legislation brought to the state senators by the Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, manged by the Speaker of the Legislature, Mike Flood and prioritized by Senator Wallman.  Additionally, there was considerable victim input by several families and MADD was pleased to see more ignition interlock put into use, boating under suspension, and a separate offense for transporting a child while intoxicated. The bill went through all three rounds of debate without a single NO vote.  That is a testament to the legislature’s support to stop drunk driving and support victims/survivors impacted by this violent crime.
Last, we all kicked off the 100 days of summer with Memorial Day weekend.  A time for reflection, family and gratitude for those that serve our country to ensure we all have our freedom to live life to the fullest.
Several different agencies were conducting DUI enforcement and  seat belt enforcement. Naturally, there was some of concern around the Nebraska State Parks as this is the first year it has been legal to consume alcohol in our state parks for some while.  However, at first glance it seems all went well despite the fact it has put some additional burden on our law enforcement agencies.
That about wraps it up – busy week!  Thanks to our supporters, our victim families and the community for supporting our mission.

PowerTalk 21™ day is the first annual day for parents and teens to start the conversation about alcohol. Governor Dave Heineman will be officially declaring April 21st PowerTalk 21day in Nebraska.

Governor Heineman and his wife, First Lady Sally Ganem, have made the health and safety of young Nebraskans a priority. Ganem, a MADD National Board Member, has worked throughout the state on initiatives that aim to reduce underage drinking. “The youth of Nebraska are one of our greatest resources, and it is our job as parents to keep them safe,” said Ganem. “I encourage parents to use PowerTalk 21 Day to have a conversation with their kids about alcohol.”

PowerTalk 21 day is intentionally positioned in advance of prom, graduation and other events around which teens may encounter alcohol, providing families with an opportunity to have an important conversation at what may be a critical time.

MADD, along with presenting sponsor Nationwide Insurance, trusts that April 21 will become widely known as the national day to talk about teens and alcohol. To that end, parents across the U.S. will be participating in Power of Parents, It’s Your Influence workshops and events held at community gatherings, schools, churches, partner organizations and various other groups leading up to and around April 21. 

 For more details on these workshops or for more information on how to schedule one in your community, please contact MADD Nebraska at (402)434-5330.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving is on Facebook, Twitter and MADD Nebraska has a Facebook fan page too!  This is a great way to stay connected to what is going on across the United States and also a way to connect locally to what is happening here at the local level. 

Here at MADD, we always try to provide informative updates about our stand on issues as they arise, acknowledge the human element and tragic toll alcohol-related crashes take on our communities, families and friends and strive to provide  education regarding the dangers of underage drinking and the importance of maintaining the 21MDL in the every state.

Also, it is just a great way to connect with others, offer your volunteer time and/or financial support so we can keep our mission moving forward.  Thanks to the many that have already provided their support in numerous ways – be it time, resources or dollars!

Your Donation this Holiday Season will Make A Difference Daily!

For MADD Nebraska, Facebook is kind of like a neighborhood newsletter and it enables us to all stay connected.  Allowing each one of us to know that we have the ability to make a valuable contribution to the organization, we can provide support and understanding to those that are in need and we can work collectively to eliminate drunk driving bit by bit.  MADD’s mission is: to stop drunk driving, support victims of this violent crime and prevent underage drinking.

If you have not found us on Facebook or Twitter yet I want to encourage you to connect with us and others like you that want to see the elimination of drunk driving across the Untied States and here at home in Nebraska. 

First Lady Sally Ganem, MADD National Board Member, often says, “Nebraskans want to be No. 1 in football but, not in underage drinking, binge drinking or drunk driving deaths”.  Take time to be a friend today!

Commentary by Lt. Col. Dana C. McCown
Commander, 55th Maintenance Squadron

First Lady Sally Ganem and Lt. Col. McCown


9/29/2010 - OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb.  – Did you know that drunken driving now accounts for 32% of all traffic fatalities? In our Air Force, drunk driving and its ramifications are directly tied to our mission readiness, so it’s a critical time for us to change our drinking culture!

Nationally, one in three people will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lifetime. Every minute, one person is injured from an alcohol-related crash. This year, an estimated 11,773 people will die in drunken-driving crashes – one sister, brother, mom, or dad every 45 minutes. This is not a “statistic,” these are human lives lost with countless other lives turned upside down.

Trust me; I know because in 2007 the state of Florida experienced 3,214 fatalities and my parents were two of them. They were killed by a three – time DUI offender with no driver’s license and no car insurance.

At Offutt, we’ve experienced 94 DUIs the past 2.5 years…that’s 94 Airmen (with a big “A” to include civilians) who most likely can’t deploy or aren’t fully mission capable to perform their primary duties. That means the rest of us have to work harder than we already do to bridge the gap.

The 55th Wing commander commissioned a “DUI Task Force” in an effort to start “changing the culture” on the acceptability of irresponsible drinking and drinking and driving. I know statistics can speak for themselves, but let me show you where we’ve morphed as a state and a nation the past several years.

For Nebraska:

· In 1997 there were 2,097 alcohol related crashes. In 2009 that number decreased by 17% to 1,746. But at Offutt, we’re on pace for 32 DUIs for 2010, with nine of those in the last three months. This is despite Brig. Gen. Shanahan, 55th Wing commander, instituting a “20-12″ goal- no more than 20 DUIs over 12 months. Also remember, his “commander’s intent” is one DUI is too many!

· In 1996 there were 12,763 arrests and 6,295 convictions for drunken driving. In 2009, those numbers went up to 13,399 arrests and 11,520 convictions.

Nation – wide:

· The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration encourages states to enact “enhance” sanctions for drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 grams per deciliter or greater.

The rationale for high-BAC sanctioning systems is that drivers with a BAC .15 or greater is at least 20 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than a sober driver. During an average weekend night, about one percent of drivers have BACs of .15 or greater and about two-thirds of fatally injured drunk drivers have BACs of .15 or greater.

Want to hear something scary? Over the past two and a half years, Offutt’s average BAC is greater than .15…yes, our 94 DUI offenders, on average, were at least 20 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than a sober driver.

We all know a culture takes time to change …but when a company, or in our case Offutt, morphs it shared attitudes, values, goals and practices and everyone realizes that when you drink and drive, everyone loses, then we can turn our negative trend into something positive!

For example, back in 1980 there were 22,000 drunken driving fatalities nation – wide and in 2009, our nation reduced those fatalities by almost half.

As General Shanahan has said, “drinking and driving and irresponsible drinking kills careers…if you’re lucky. Rolling the dice when it comes to mission readiness is not how we prepare for our peacetime and wartime missions.”

The bottom line is that we have taken a moral oath to protect and defend the citizens of this great nation, and our local community, and every time we get behind the wheel of a vehicle impaired we put those same citizens into harm’s way and break the trust with those we’ve vowed to protect.

First Lady Sally Ganem and Lt. Col. McCown

Wow, MADD is brimming with joy for Amy Wieczorek as she was named “The Face of Omaha 2010”   What an honor for Amy and we, here at MADD, are glad we can share the joy with her.

 Take a minute to visit her website: I think you will find it is tasteful and exciting.  What a great way to get our young adults involved in the community and MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving. Join MADD on Thursday the 30th of September, Holiday Inn, 3321 South 72nd Street, Omaha, NE  68124, at 7:00 to enjoy the fashions and support our mission.

 The support last year, from our corporate sponsors, enabled us to reach out to more than 500 families impacted by drunk driving. Doing what we do so well “Helping Survivors Survive”.  As you know MADD relies on donor dollars, at any level, to sustain our life saving work and supporting those impacted by impaired driving.

Also, donor support has enabled MADD to blog about many topics including corporate partners and individual partners that support our mission: to stop drunk driving, support victims and prevent underage drinking. I am proud to say we have had more than 17,000 hits. A special thanks to our Blog Sponsor: Herb Friedman of Friedman Law Offices.

 It is only through sound working relationships with business owners, individual donors and committed volunteers that MADD Nebraska can carry on.  To that end a sincere thank you for your support.

This year, every sponsor/donor for the fashion show will be recognized at the MADD Annual “Tie One On For Safety” at the Governor’s Residence on December 8th at 9:30 a.m. 

 Your support means the world to us and we look forward to recognizing all you do to help MADD stay strong and push our mission forward.

Saving Lives – Serving People: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. 

There will be five of us traveling from Nebraska to Washington, D.C. to attend the MADD National Conference and celebrate 30 years of saving lives. 

First Lady Sally Ganem will be going with us to” The Hill” and she will be one of three to present at a workshop: Creating Community Partnerships

The trip will be an opportunity for us to meet those on “The Hill” and thank them for their support to help eliminate impaired driving from our roadways, maintain support to address underage drinking prevention efforts, and support those impacted by this violent crime daily.

Many thanks to our elected officials for taking time to visit with us on our trip.  We have plans to visit with Senator Nelson, Senator Johanns, Congressman Terry, Fortenberry and Smith. I am sure having the First Lady of Nebraska traveling with us doesn’t hurt at all when setting up appointments! 

Thanks to Sally Ganem for her volunteer work as a MADD National Board Member and for her leadership here in Nebraska on our MADD State Operations Council.

I am really looking forward to meeting our new CEO, Kimberly Earle.  She has been nothing short of positive in her messages and direction. 

Also featured at the conference:

  • Over 50 concurrent workshops to choose from
  • National Victim/Survivor Tribute
  • MADD on the Hill
  • Dinner and National President’s Awards

To all of our members, partners and stakeholders across the state, I want to thank you for making MADD your partner. We look forward to spreading the news, when we get back, about what we learned at conference. 

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.

MADD Nebraska would like to take this opportunity to let you know that MADD is holding our 23rd annual “Tie One On For Safety” kick-off and  Governor Dave Heineman and First Lady Sally Ganem will be hosting an open house after the press conference, Tuesday, December 22nd at 9:30. 

It is such a treat to partner with First Lady Sally Ganem, MADD National Board member, and Governor Heineman as we all work to encourage the public to be mindful of the holiday season.  Next week we want to remind everyone to drive safe, sober and always wear your seatbelt throughout the holiday season and the entire year – 2010! 

A few tips for the season: 

Always Designate a Sober Driver 

Never serve alcohol to anyone under 21  

Allow plenty of time between trips as you travel  

Your seatbelt is your best defense against drunk driving 

Make a pledge to drive safe, sober and buckled up in 2010 – for your family! 



Tis the season.......Happy Holidays from MADD.

Squadron commander receives Nebraska Admiralship

by 2nd Lt. Ken Scholz
55th Wing Public Affairs

First Lady Sally Ganem presents Admiralship

12/1/2009 - OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. (AFNS) – A special ceremony for Maj. Dana McCown’s promotion to lieutenant colonel Nov. 24 became much more as Nebraska first lady Sally Ganem took to the podium during the ceremony..

The wife of Nebraska governor Dave Heineman bestowed Colonel McCown with an Admiralship in the Great Navy of Nebraska for the colonel’s personal commitment to the Mothers Against Drunk Driving organization.

“It is truly an honor and a privilege to present this award to Dana McCown,” said Ms. Ganem.

The award, Nebraska’s highest honor, carries with it no real military title, pay or duties, but is an honorary title bestowed by the governor to those who have benefitted the state.  The award recognizes individuals who go above and beyond to help the citizens of Nebraska, said Ms. Ganem.

Sim Reynolds, executive director of MADD Nebraska, said Colonel McCown attended a MADD training program about a year ago. Since then, Ms. Reynolds said, the colonel has brought passion, leadership and spirit to the organization and her talks have helped educate thousands about the dangers of drunk driving.

In June 2007, Colonel McCown and her sister, Michele Pennington, lost their mother and father in a drunk driving accident in Florida.

“It was a year plus, when I later joined MADD,” the colonel said. “MADD Nebraska took us in as family, hey were sincere in their empathy and caring.”

“Dana McCown is success,” said the colonel’s long-time mentor and friend Maj. Gen. Polly Peyer, commander of Warner Robins Air Logistics Center at Robins Air Force Base, Ga. “She’s sincere, understanding, caring; she communicates, has experience, sets the standard and shares.”

Colonel McCown has participated in numerous victim impact panels, fundraisers and family events, as well as shared her experience through locally televised public service announcements.

“Sometimes volunteers don’t get the recognition they deserve,” Ms. Ganem said, “but because of the impact Dana’s had on the citizens of Nebraska with her involvement with MADD, we wanted to make sure she was recognized.”

The new lieutenant colonel, a Bowling Green, Ky., native, entered the Air Force more than 22 years ago as an enlisted Airman. She was recently appointed chairwoman of the executive state operations council of MADD Nebraska and now has joined the prestigious ranks of the Nebraska Admiralty as well.

“I feel like I’ve gotten so much more out of MADD than what I’ve given,” Colonel McCown said.

Call MADD 24/7 800-444-6233

Call MADD 24/7 800-444-6233

Whenever I want to talk about underage drinking prevention and I am in a large group I can see eyes starting to roll “Oh no not again”.  Yet today, as I sat typing this article, we had a call here at the State Office from a mother who has strong concerns about her daughter’s underage drinking, sincere concern for her actions and questions for me on how to “reach her”.  Kudo’s to the Mom for picking up the phone and trying to find out how to help her daughter.

Here at MADD we want to prevent underage drinking and support families so we don’t have to come in after the crash.  No one wants to be the tertiary agent! 

I applaud First Lady Sally Ganem for hitting the trail and going out west to speak to small rural schools about underage drinking prevention.  We are fortunate to have a wonderful spokesperson, such as the First Lady, willing to work with schools, willing to share her knowledge and passion to ensure that lives are saved.  MADD Nebraska is grateful for Ms. Ganem’s work. 

The cost of underage drinking  to us here in our state is something we should all be concerned about!

Alcohol consumed by minors is a critical problem across the country, Nebraska included. Consider the following:

  • Alcohol is a contributing factor in nearly one-third of all fatal crashes, nation-wide, involving drivers 15 to 20 years of age.
  • Each year, more than 4,300 young people in this age group are killed in car crashes while under the influence of alcohol.
  • Underage drinking costs Nebraskans $447-million dollars each year. That total includes costs associated with hospitalization, law enforcement, and funerals.
  • 90-percent of sexual assaults on college campuses involve underage drinking by either the victim, the perpetrator, or both.
  • 40-percent (70-percent) of alcohol consumed by underage drinkers is provided by adults (including parents).
  • 22-percent of all alcohol consumed in Nebraska is by people under 21 years of age.
  • One out of five automobile accidents in Nebraska is tied to drinking involving drivers under 21 years old.
  • In Nebraska, high school girls are just as likely to drink as high school boys.
  • Approximately one of five crimes, where alcohol is a factor, involve young people 18 years old or younger.
  • The largest numbers of drunk drivers arrested in Nebraska are between 16 and 24 years old.
  • Approximately 3 out of 4 high school students in Nebraska reported they have consumed alcohol.
  • In Nebraska, 40-percent of high school seniors report binge drinking (4 or more drinks at a setting).