Wheeling Park High School Students ‘Tie One On’ Against Drunk Driving

Jody Miller knows the pain of losing a child to a drunken driver, and with homecoming just around the corner she urged Wheeling Park High School students on Wednesday to make wise decisions so they can make it home to their parents safely.

“My daughter was 21 and she was not the driver,” Miller said of her daughter, Heather Miller, who died in March of 2008. “She made the fatal choice of getting into a vehicle with someone who had been drinking. … She was ready to graduate (from college) and had her whole life ahead of her,” said Miller.

Jody Miller spent a week in the hospital with her daughter, and due to the end result she now speaks to children in an effort to deter tragic decisions such as the one her daughter made that night. She stressed to the students to be safe all the time, especially this weekend.

Miller’s presentation to the students was part of the WPHS Students Against Destructive Decisions club’s annual “Tie One On” event in advance of homecoming. More than 50 students gathered in the school’s parking lot, placing red ribbons on fellow students’ vehicles with a pledge stating they will stay alcohol-free until they are 21.

“I joined SADD because what we do influences other kids who make bad decisions … to make good decisions. We get to show people different things going on and ways to get involved,” said Wheeling Park senior Regan McGarry.

Both McGarry and fellow senior Auziah Brady agree they should have gotten involved sooner and that SADD is an important program.

“I wish I had joined my freshman year,” Brady, a two-year member of SADD, said.

Wheeling Park freshman Bailey Mortakis joined SADD once she heard how much others enjoyed the clubs activities and programs.

“I was told it is a really great club to join and you learn a lot,” Mortakis said. “We do all kinds of things like fundraisers, community service and things that have to do with education.”

The Community Impact Coalition sponsored the Tie One On event Wednesday and assisted students throughout the event alongside Miller and faculty advisor Sharon Jebbia.

Wheeling Park’s SADD chapter has been going strong, with members encouraging their fellow students to abstain from drinking. The group is raising funds to attend the national SADD conference in Washington, D.C., and plans to attend workshops to help fellow young people.

SADD focuses on substance abuse, driving safety, bullying, health and wellness, teen suicide and any area that can help teens make wiser, healthier choices. SADD’s mission is to empower young people to confront successfully the risks and pressures that challenge them in their daily lives.