Team Spirit 25th Anniversary
Saturday, September 19, 2015
This evening on Bryant University Campus in Bello Hall a group gathered.
They came together to celebrate. The reason they exist is not cause for celebration. It is one born of tragedy at the hand of destructive decisions.
They are TeamSpirit the youth leadership program of MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. And, for 25 years in the state of Rhode Island, young people from all across our state have gathered, have rallied, have learned and have carried the message of MADD back to their communities, to their schools and to their peers. They make a difference and that difference and all those who support them and make those efforts possible ARE cause for celebration.
I clearly remember my first TeamSpirit experience. It was a first on many levels. It came a few short years after being thrust into the unknown, unjust and unforgiving world of suffering the consequences of a drunk driving crash. It was my first TeamSpirit, my first time on the Bryant Campus and…, my first time as a speaker.
As I walked towards Janikies Auditorium I held a carefully folded piece of paper. This was my speech. Each word was meticulously outlined, carefully planned. With each step closer to my ultimate destination I felt a rumble coming from the auditorium. As I got even closer I realized it was the voices of the young people inside. It was a vibration and it was building. I could feel it under my feet. Soon that vibration was traveling up my legs and my body until finally.., it settled in my chest.
Once inside when it was time to speak I discarded that piece of paper. Instead, I used the vibration that settled inside my chest, inside my heart - to be the guide for my words. I use it still as it stays with me to this day.
That vibration is the energy, the commitment, the passion and dedication of every young person who has ever walked through the threshold of TeamSpirit. It is every adult advisor and volunteer and presenter who has taken of their time and made an effort to share and to educate. That vibration is hope. It is what sustains and what makes me believe that the future holds the promise another family may not know the same pain, loss and suffering.
Life as you know it can change in a moment and the choices we make will dictate how those moments play out. TeamSpirit has empowered so many youth in our state with the tools to make the right choices for 25 years. Here’s to the next 25 – Choose well.