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A MADD world

Staff Reports

Ms. Chicoine,I write to you regarding your article in The Vail Trail, Mothers against extreme drinking (see vailtrail.com, Feb. 3 edition). I don’t know how long you have lived in this valley but “Party Town USA” is a title Vail has held for a very long time. It is synonymous throughout the country with skiing and partying.Although most of our high school students claim they don’t drink, 55 percent of Eagle County high school seniors admit to being binge drinkers drinking to excess with the intention of getting drunk. Where do you think they are getting the alcohol? Some adult somewhere is buying it for them, some store is selling it to them or some bar is serving it to them. How do you change the party mentality of a child or teen if the adults who are responsible for their well being, (not just parents but the community as a whole) promote this behavior? Believe me when I tell you, adults are a large part of the problem.Recently a business owner I know told me about a problem he is experiencing. Some of our more mature local residents frequent his drinking establishment, have too much to drink then proceed to get into their expensive cars and drive the five or so miles home. They don’t think they are impaired and they don’t believe an accident will happen in the short trip home. This is Vail after all! Nothing bad happens in Vail! How do you expect our young adults and future adults to learn when the locals are setting such a bad example? This same proprietor says it’s the 20-something crowd that doesn’t hesitate to designate a driver or call a cab. They seem to realize the cost of both time and huge amounts of money that a DUI can cost. Our more affluent residents act as though they can just pay their way out of it. But what is the value of human life when you injure or kill someone on your way home?Here’s something else you might like to know, or that you may want to tell those, “parents of college students afar.” At colleges, such as CU Boulder, a new tradition has developed: Students who drink so much that they are taken to the hospital for alcohol poisoning, then return to the dorms where they post their hospital record showing their Blood Alcohol Level. It has become a badge of honor of sorts.The only way to make sure our youth are getting the right message is to get involved with them. Not just your own youth all of them. And it doesn’t take as much time as you think. Are parents in the valley involved with local organizations which are looking out for our children and trying to make a difference in their lives?Mother’s Against Drunk Driving has a new chapter in Eagle County. Two press releases were sent to the local television stations and newspapers. MADD is not angry mothers. It is concerned parents, families, friends and strangers. It is an acronym not an adjective. They are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and much more, working together for the purposes of Activism, Victim Services and Education.We are also lucky enough in this community to have the Eagle River Youth Coalition and the EMS Prevention Committee, both dedicated to and focused on making it a safer community for our children and helping them to make better decisions. Not just because we tell them to but also the reasons and the whys behind those decisions.You said unite against the marketing teams. How do you propose this be done? Marketing and bringing tourists, and their money, to our valley is our lifeline. Without it we would fold. If you alienate the marketing people they will stop promoting us as a destination of choice and we will lose millions of dollars in revenue. It’s okay for marketers to give ideas of where to go to “party”, however we need to concentrate on the “party places” to be responsible. Do things like have ID checks, have doormen, do breath tests, do car key checks and support local law enforcement efforts with DUI checkpoints and stings to identify stores willing to sell to minors. Support and become a dedicated community member.The brain is not fully developed until the early twenties. It’s because of this we have programs like Colorado Highway Patrol’s Alive at 25 and MADD’s Youth in Action. The earlier alcohol is introduced to a developing brain, the more long term damage it will cause.We need to be involved in the legal system strengthening laws that protect our children. Pressuring district attorneys to help put a good kid back on track early by not plea bargaining away that charge of Minor in Possession. Send minors to Victim Impact Panels. Get rid of the ski fast, drive fast, die fast mentality. Help create stiffer laws that make keg registration mandatory, outlaw alcohol with out liquid devices (also called misting), strengthen laws holding adults responsible for providing alcohol to minors and make manufacturers responsible for the effects of their new products, like alcoholic beverages infused with caffeine, ginsing and other herbal stimulants.Catastrophic events are happening all around us. Not just on our slopes on our roads and on our highways. Ask the parents of the Red Canyon High School Student that was killed recently while street racing, or the Colorado State Patrol who see this train of thought every time they arrive on the scene of an accident.Let’s get involved and encourage others to. Let’s make a difference in the lives of Vail valley youths.Apollo GarciaMADD Eagle County Coordinator


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