September 24, 2020
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Classic Signals: Victim’s family advocates for designated drivers

By Jane Bowden
Features Editor

In light of last semester’s car accident involving students at the College, community members have been avid in fighting against drunk driving.

In an April 2005 issue of The Signal, a reporter wrote about Bill and Muriel Elliotts’ campaign, Human Education Resource Organization, to promote designated driving after their son, John, was killed by a drunk driver. It is clear that as time has passed, the College’s efforts to combat drunk driving have continued.

The College continues to combat drunk driving (Photo courtesy of the TCNJ Digital Archive).

Had a friend stopped the man who killed their son while driving drunk from driving on July 22, 2000, Bill and Muriel Elliott’s son John would probably be alive today.

The Elliotts urged College students last Wednesday to join the HERO Campaign, an organization they created in John’s memory to spread designated driver awareness.

HERO stands for Human Education Resource Officer, which was John’s job at the Naval Academy he attended. HERO Campaign was launched in August of 2000.  The Elliotts said they hope that the campaign will eventually reach a national level.

“We want to make sure that what happened to John will never happen to anyone else,” Bill Elliott said.

As a result of the HERO Campaign, new legislation called “John’s Law” has been put into effect in New Jersey.  With the law, police officers are required to hold DWI offenders for eight hours and take possession of their vehicles for 12 hours.

The Elliott family came to the College in hopes that students will help promote the HERO Campaign. The Elliotts encouraged the audience to spread the word about HERO, not only on campus, but also in the surrounding community and beyond.

After explaining that the College is the first institution of higher education in New Jersey to recognize the HERO Campaign, Bill Elliott mentioned several ways in which the students can get involved and make a difference. He suggested holding a volleyball-a-thon or a non-alcoholic “Virgin Party.”

“You represent the solution,” Bill Elliott said.

Possibly the most surprising aspect of the event was the positive spin that was put on the devastating topic. When tears may have been expected at the event, there was a sense of hope in finding the remedy to a nationwide problem.

“We think this is a positive thing, and through John, we can send this message,” Muriel Elliot said.

The Elliott family taught students that they can take action, whether it is by hanging posters, fund-raising, buying the blue “Be A Hero” bracelets for a $1 donation or by being a designated driver.

“You can make a difference by stopping a friend from driving drunk,” Muriel said.

The HERO Campaign uses public service announcements, car decals and posters to spread its message. Also, it is working with local bars and the Phillies’ Citizen’s Bank Park in giving out free soft drinks to all designated drivers.

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