John Kreslin, Jr.
The John Kreslin, Jr. Story
When I was growing up I loved the change of seasons. Spring, summer, winter and fall all have their own measure of time and unforgettable memories. Traditionally, Labor Day marked the end of summer. As a young girl I remember the onset of Labor Day often meant that warm summer nights on the front porch would soon be ending. The streetlights would turn on earlier and bedtime wasn't far behind as we anxiously prepared for a new school year.
This time of year many parents are preparing for another school year. Shopping and budgets vary depending on the age of the child. Emotions run high, as our prize possessions are launched off into a world of new experiences, challenges and choices as they start a new season in school. This is true whether your child is going off to their first day of kindergarten or their first year of college. Change is right around the corner.
I'd like to mark this new season of fall in memory of my son John. John lost his life at the age of 19 on August 30, 2002, the start of the Labor Day weekend. John had just started his sophomore year of college at Butler University in Indianapolis, where he was studying to become a Pharmacist. After drinking with friends, John had made the poor choice of getting into a car as a passenger along with three girls that were in the back seat; one of the girls was his girlfriend. The driver lost control of his car and hit a tree traveling over 65-75 mph. Everyone in the car was injured; my son was the only one that lost his life. The driver's BAC (blood alcohol concentration) was .13.
For years I have had a hard time understanding how something so senseless could happen to my son. I had spent many years talking to both my boys about being accountable and responsible for everything they choose to do in their lives. I was the type of parent that cut articles out of the local newspapers of tragedies that happened in our own neighborhood. I would post them on the side of my refrigerator, to remind my boys of what could happen and what does happen if you don't pay attention to the choices you make and situations in which you put your self.
My first emotion dealing with my grief was anger. How could this tragedy happen to such a bright young man? A young man that had great plans for his life, and always seemed to know the difference between right and wrong. John was the type of kid that thought through the choices and decisions he made. Which brings me to the realization to the accuracy of a study that was done by the American Medical Association in 2003. "Research shows alcohol affects the developing teen brain differently from an adult brain. Alcohol use may impair memory, learning, decision-making and impulse control, to name a few".
Shortly after John died my journey through grief led me to an organization, The Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists (AAIM). I had an overwhelming need to speak to high school students and share the story of what happen to my son. To talk about the choices he and his friends had made the night my son lost his life. Eight years have passed since the death of my son and this Labor Day I look back at who I was before Johns death and who I am today. I would not be who I am today without God leading me through this journey.
After working thirty years in the beauty industry, I have taken a huge leap of faith. In January, I decided to leave the beauty industry and take a fulltime position as Deputy Director of AAIM. I have spent the past seven and half years volunteering for AAIM. My goal has been to make a difference in the lives of others by assisting parents and others through the grieving process of losing a child or loved-one. And to attempt to prevent another person from being maimed because of someone's selfish choice to drive while impaired.
The Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists was founded in 1982 and is based in Schaumburg. Although they are an organization I would have rather not have met under the circumstances, I am honored to become part of the AAIM family. I am a different individual than I was eight years ago because of the friendship, love and support shown to me by everyone in the organization. AAIM's purpose is to heighten public awareness of the devastation caused by intoxicated motorist; press for effective legislation and strict enforcement; involve the community in meeting their mission; and support crash victims and their families emotionally, financially and during court proceedings.
If I may, I'd like to end with a piece of personal advice from a mother's heart. Whichever grade level your child is about to enter, remember, most children/teenagers will never admit it, but the most influential people in their lives are their parents. And when asked who they would least like to ever disappoint? They easily answer…their Parents! So, when you think your children are not listening; never give up because the odds are they hear you loud and clear.
A mother's heart is always her children.