Imagine sitting down for your wonderful holiday dinner. The candles are lit, the smell of delicious food permeates the room… then you look across the table to find empty chairs that represent a third of your family – empty chairs that will never be filled again.
It’s hard to imagine and it’s an image we hope we never have to deal with, but for Lou and Linda Van De Vorst, this is their reality and their burden.
It all started one morning at 2:50am with an ominous knock at their door. It was the police – a sight no one wants to see.
“The sergeant was distraught. I could see it on his face,” Linda recalls. “His words hit us like a ton of bricks, ‘I’m sorry to tell you this but your son and daughter-in-law have been killed in a car crash and your grandchildren are clinging to life’.”
Soon, five-year-old Kamryn and two-year-old Miguire were gone too – four beautiful lives snuffed out by someone’s criminal decision to drive impaired.
“We lost one third of our family in one breath,” says Lou. “We used to have dinner every Sunday. Laughter was always in our house. Now we spend the day at the cemetery. Our son, Jordan, his wife, Chanda and the two youngest members of our family – our little angels – are gone and it’s a gap we’ll never be able to fill.”
What a burden to have to bear. But thankfully they do not share this burden alone.
As Charles Dickens wrote, “One is useful in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” All of us have a desire to be useful, worthwhile and feel that we have a purpose. This holiday season, you can fulfill that desire with a special gift to MADD Canada.
At this holiday time of year, MADD Canada conducts its Project Red Ribbon campaign. This program not only raises awareness about impaired driving, but it also honours the memory of victims/survivors of this horrific crime.
It is one of the many programs and services along with Campaign 911, Victim Support Services and many others that we offer to the 20,000 victims that come to us each year.
And we wouldn’t be able to offer these services without people like you.
As you can imagine, the loss of their loved ones was almost more than Lou and Linda could bear. They miss Jordan’s sense of humour, Chanda’s infectious smile. They ache for the hugs and kisses of their grandchildren.
And then Lou and Linda discovered MADD Canada. “We didn’t know what to expect,” Linda says. “But it was incredible. We felt loved, welcomed and not alone. It meant so much to us.”
The holiday season is a busy one, I know, but I hope you will find it in your heart to send your gift today.
With your kindness and compassion for people dealing with the utter heartbreak of losing loved ones to impaired driving crashes, you will help lighten their devastating burden.
Thank you and I hope your dinner table will see you enjoying the company and love of family and friends.
All the best to you and yours this Holiday Season,
Chief Executive Officer