In Nov. 24 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Editor
The 14th annual Russell County Mothers Against Drug Driving Candlelight Vigil of Remembrance and Hope brought back painful memories for some but in this season of Thanksgiving everyone present seemed moved and comforted by this year's program.
Nearly 40 people attended the vigil, held at Jamestown Methodist Church on Friday night, to remember those lost or injured by alcohol-related crashes.
Local MADD spokesperson Jacqueline Jenkins, who organized the Russell County MADD program in 1993, said the program is here for Russell County families that may be suffering or in need following one of these needless incidents.
"We're not only here for you tonight, but we're here for you in the future," Jenkins told the audience.
As the evening's program began, Sister Marian Stenken from Jamestown's Holy Spirit Catholic Church gave the invocation before Russell County High School junior Taylor Grider sang "I Can Only Imagine."
Robin Mohon, a MADD victim advocate from Western Kentucky, then shared with those in attendance that the candles in front of the group represented hope.
"Hope that each of us here tonight share in common," she said. Mohon then lit the candle representing the injured victims.
Then the guest speaker for the evening, Greg Ryan with Hospice of Lake Cumberland, told the crowd about his own situation.
Ryan said he was 5-years-old when his older sister was killed in an automobile crash, one that he and his other sister were all involved in. His sister, Trudy, was 17 when she was taking her two siblings to a pool to swim in their native Ohio when they were hit head-on by a supposed drunk driver.
The year was 1961, 19 years before MADD even formed nationwide. Ryan, who is originally from Plymouth, Ohio, said he didn't remember much about the collision except for the impact and some of the following events.
Ryan said his mother was shaken forever due to the accident and held a grudge for decades against the lady who hit her children. The other driver was barely injured at all.
"Of course at that age, there are unfulfilled wishes and unfulfilled dreams," Ryan said of his sister's untimely death. "Life is just beginning at 17 … it never should have happened."
Following Ryan's touching tribute, he lit the remembrance candle, representing the innocent lives lost in drunk driving incidents. Grider then sang another song before the memorial candle lighting began. Lt. Tony King from the Jamestown Police Department and Deputy Nick Bertram from the Russell County Sheriff's Department assisted the families and friends in the lighting. Both King and Bertram, along with Russell Springs Police officer Jeremy West were the top DUI award winners for 2011.
Jenkins then read more than 20 names of locals who have died as a result of alcohol-related crashes as a candle was lit in each one's honor. Following the lighting of the candles, Jenkins lit the final candle, a blue candle, in honor of the law enforcement that put their lives on the line each day to combat drunk drives. The final candle's flame represents the courage that law enforcement show in their daily battle to rid the streets and roadways from alcohol-impaired drivers.
"We appreciate, admire and care about each one of you, may God bless each one of you in law enforcement," Jenkins said.
Following the program, the host church's pastor, Rev, Patricia Hoeksema gave the benediction before all gathered and joined in the church's fellowship hall for a meal.
Jenkins wished all a safe and happy new year and that they would meet again in 2011 for the 15th annual MADD Candlelight Vigil.