Friday, April 16, 2010

Mastering the toughest job in advocacy

This week's anti-drinking and driving presentations at West High and Tracy High might not have been dramatic (for more, see this week's column), but they were by no stretch of the imagination worthless. Quite the contrary.

It's pretty tough to keep the attention of a group of several hundred teenagers. As an adult addressing said gaggle, it's even tougher to connect with them. Yet, somehow, Lori Martin manages.

A victim of a drunken-driving accident when she was in high school, Martin gets kids to laugh at some points and somberly ponder in others. When she talks about how good her life was at the time of her accident — about her grades, her athletic feats, her boyfriend — there's a palpable connection.

It's a feat made even more impressive by what happened to Martin in that head-on crash. She was in a coma, had broken bones all over her body, lost most of her hearing, and suffered brain damage.

It's not easy for her to talk or hear, but she's a natural when speaking to a group of teenagers on the cusp of celebrating prom and graduation about the dangers of drinking and driving.

After Martin's Thursday speech at West High, California Highway Patrol officer Bob Rickman called her a "brave," "strong" person. I couldn't agree more.

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