Debbie Grigsby Weir is a proud native of King George, Virginia and current Chief Executive Officer of Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD). When visiting her family in Rollins Fork, she always feels happy that she’s back home in the Northern Neck.

Christmas 2007 started off like any holiday for then-12-year-old Melissa Stegner of Centreville, Virginia. The day included lots of food, family and of course, presents.

Two days later, her dad and 14-year-old brother Sean made their way to Pennsylvania to return her grandmother home. She had initially agreed to accompany them, but later changed her mind.

As her dad and brother headed home, her father called her to let her know that they were going to go home a different route and stop at an outlet mall. That was the last time she would hear her father’s voice.

A few hours later, a repeat drunk driver crossed into the southbound lane and struck the Stegners’ minivan head-on, killing Melissa’s father and brother

The reality is that the holidays remain one of the most dangerous times on our roadways. In Virginia and across the nation, far too many families like Melissa’s will get the tragic news that their loved one has been killed by a drunk driver.

For the first time ever, drunk driving deaths fell below 10,000 in 2011. While this is great news, we can’t celebrate yet because we know that 9,878 families like the Stegners’ will be celebrating the holidays with an empty seat at their table this year. There were also 345,000 victims injured in drunk driving crashes. MADD is available to provide grief support to drunk driving victims and survivors 24 hours per day, 365 days per year through our 1-877-MADD-HELP line. We help survivors survive.

We put so much planning into the little details of the holidays—décor, menu, and of course, gifts—but so little into the logistics of getting to and from our destination safely. That’s why every holiday season, MADD asks drivers to display a MADD Tie One On For Safety® red ribbon on their vehicle as a reminder to drive safe, sober and buckled up. But we still need your help.

It starts by taking personal responsibility for our own actions and extends to making sure other do the same. Always designate a sober driver before the festivities begin. And if someone you know looks like they’ve had too much, step in and insist that they find a sober ride home.

Help us ensure that all our families are safe on the roads we share.

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