(NEWS RELEASE) - Governor Steve Beshear, on Tuesday, launched Kentucky's HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers, encouraging people to participate in designated driving programs throughout Kentucky and the nation. The national campaign was established by the family of Navy Ensign John Elliott of Atlantic County, NJ, who was killed in 2000 in a head-on collision with a drunken driver.
"The HERO Campaign's mission is to end drunk-driving fatalities, injuries and accidents nationwide by promoting designated driving and reminding the public to drive sober," Gov. Beshear said. "I'm proud we're bringing attention to this noble cause and encouraging residents to use designated drivers."
The HERO Campaign works in cooperation with schools, businesses, law enforcement agencies, and other community-based organizations to promote the use of safe and sober designated drivers to prevent drunken driving tragedies. Businesses, including bars, taverns and restaurants, are invited to display posters and window decals identifying the locations as HERO sites, and are asked to serve free soft drinks to sober designated drivers. Law enforcement agencies are also being asked to participate and display HERO Campaign decals on their cars, and schools are being encouraged to start HERO Campaign chapters and integrate the campaign into their DUI prevention and educational programs.
The HERO campaign was inspired by Navy Ensign John Elliott, who was killed by a drunken driver as he was traveling home from Annapolis, Md. to southern New Jersey for his mother's birthday in July, 2000. Elliott had recently graduated with merit from the United States Naval Academy, where he was named the Outstanding HERO of his graduating class, and was prepared to enter naval flight officer school that fall.
Elliott's parents, Muriel and William Elliott, along with Kentucky State Police, local law enforcement, beverage distributors and retailers and community leaders, joined Gov. Beshear at the Prime Lounge in Louisville as he signed a proclamation designating Dec. 18, 2012 as HERO Campaign Day.
The campaign's goal is simple, according to William Elliott: to bring an end to drunken driving in America, and to spare other families the agony of losing a son or a daughter.
"Today does not mark the end of drunken driving, but let it mark the beginning of the end," Elliott said. "No parent should ever have to lose a son or daughter to a drunken driver. We promised John we would do everything possible to bring an end to drunk driving. With your help we can keep our promise."
The HERO Campaign is partnering with the Kentucky Highway Safety Office, state police and the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. To launch the program, HERO posters and billboards will be displayed throughout the state, and HERO Campaign radio and television commercials will promote the campaign message, "Be a HERO. Be a Designated Driver®."
KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer said all partners would promote the project through media and other resources, and will seek to honor Kentucky's top "Heroes."
"The unique concept for this campaign is that throughout the year, local heroes will be identified by retailers as those who serve as designated drivers," Brewer said. "Some of these individuals will receive public recognition for their efforts in saving lives and making responsible choices."
For more information on the HERO Campaign, visit www.herocampaign.org.