Mariah McCarthy was walking with two friends in late October 2007 when they were randomly hit by a teenage drunk driver. The friends survived, but Mariah died instantly. Despite his grief, her father, Leo, was determined not to let Mariah become another statistic. At her funeral, he asked friends to stay away from alcohol and drugs, and in return, he’d help them pay for college with a $1,000 scholarship.
Five years after the accident, Mariah’s Challenge has grown to help students in Idaho, Iowa, Montana, North Carolina, Washington, and Wyoming.
The incentive to earn money for college seems to working, with alcohol related fatalities dropping 44 per cent in the Butte, Montana area where Mariah was killed, according to the charity’s website.
Car crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens ages 16-19, accounting for more than one in three deaths in this group, according to the centres for Disease Control. In 2009, about 3,000 teens were killed and more than 350,000 were treated in the ER.
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