It was a beautiful summer day, but Antonette Wijeratne lay crying in a hospital bed.
Her hip, pelvis and some ribs had been fractured; the toes on her right foot dislocated; she had a brain injury as well – she had injuries all over her body. But it wasn’t her broken body causing Antonette’s agonizing pain. It was her shattered heart.
A few days before, the Wijeratne family were doing what so many Canadians love to do at this time of year – making the most of summer. Antonette, along with her husband, Neil and 16-year-old daughter, Eleesha, were driving home from a week’s vacation.
It was Antonette’s 50th birthday and Eleesha had just given her a necklace made of seashells that read, “I love you mom.” And then, in a heartbeat, everything changed.
An impaired driver slammed head-on into the Wijeratne’s vehicle, killing Neil and Eleesha instantly. The crash put Antonette into the hospital with serious injuries for three months and left her 19-year-old son, Brian, wondering how he’d ever be able to cope.
“The beautiful lives we shared together ended in a split second and we were thrown into darkness, never to be happy again,” says Antonette.
This isn’t how summer is supposed to be. It should be a time to sit back, relax and enjoy long carefree days in the sun. But sadly, impaired driving doesn’t take a holiday. In fact, summer has more impaired crashes than any other time of the year.
And, because impaired driving doesn’t take a holiday, neither does MADD Canada.
Today, I’m hoping you too won’t take a vacation from supporting our important work!
Please donate today. With you by our side, we’ll do everything in our power to make our streets and waterways safer for you and your loved ones this season. And, we’ll continue to be there for victims/survivors like Antonette and Brian who need our help so urgently, even in the summertime.
There could be no real comfort for Antonette – not then or ever again. But there was support. A MADD Canada Victim Services Volunteer visited Antonette in the hospital and helped Brian talk to the media. Later, during an agonizing 10-month trial, MADD Canada was there every day.
Antonette and Brian also attended our National Conference for Victims of Impaired Driving which helped her “learn to cope and move forward with my life.” Today, she’s a proud MADD Canada volunteer, handing out red ribbons and speaking with university students.
Your gift today will help victims/survivors this summer, and it will do so much more. It will also fund education and awareness initiatives like Campaign 911, Project Red Ribbon and our School Assembly Program.
The summer is a wonderful time of year. Many of us want to take a break from thinking about serious and potentially deadly matters like impaired driving. But Antonette’s and Brian’s tragedy reminds us we don’t have that luxury.
Impaired driving doesn’t take a summer vacation. Neither does the need for our services or the suffering of victims and survivors. For those reasons, we can’t take a holiday either.
Please find it in your heart to send your special gift today. Your support today will keep working even while you’re enjoying your own holiday with those you love. Thank you.