This speech was given by Judy to students at Rancho Bernardo High School during their "Every 15 Minutes" special assembly. Every 15 minutes someone dies from an alcohol-related crash and this high school program brings attention to this problem. Lisa had attended RB High four years ago.

Judy's Speech to RB High School
May 2, 2003

Hi, My name is Judy Stoefen. What has been happening here today reminds us that it could happen to anyone of you or your friends. Over 90 people every day are killed in alcohol related car crashes. These are crashes, not accidents because someone made a choice to drink and drive.

I want to tell you about my daughter who went to RB high four years ago and a choice she made about four months ago.

Lisa was a bright beautiful young girl who had all the potential and creativity to be happy and successful. She was full of kindness and was willing to help anyone when they needed help. Her laughter and humor brought enjoyment to all.

Lisa was sweet, loving and affectionate. She always gave her friends hugs. She was very active and involved with life. Some of her interests were dance, softball, soccer, cheerleading, girl scouts and writing poetry. She was also a high achiever and excelled in school. She wanted to become a broadcaster or a journalist. Toward the end of eighth grade several of her friends started drinking and suggested she try alcohol. She should have said no but she wanted to fit in. Lisa started to change. Her grades went down, she lost interest in her activities, and didn't seem as happy anymore. Alcohol can affect your behavior, your grades and your ability to get into college. Drinking alcohol causes irreversible brain damage affecting memory and learning skills especially in young people.

Lisa continued to drink more and more for two and a half years and she became belligerent and out of control. Her drinking behavior put a tremendous strain on our family. She was failing in school so we sent her to rehab in Louisiana. When she returned she was happy again and was determined to make a new life for herself. She went to AA meetings, hung around people who didn't drink and stayed sober one day at a time for over three years.

In November Lisa got a job at the mall and met some new young people from her work and started hanging around them. On January second Lisa had lunch with us then said she was going to go cash her paycheck and be back later. At 6:05 she called and left a message saying she was going to help a friend move and she would call when she was done. Four o'clock that morning we got a knock at the door from the police. Lisa had been involved in a car crash three blocks from home. She was traveling along Poblado near Moonsong when she lost control of her car and crashed head on into a concrete post. Her car flipped over and slid down a small embankment and came to rest against a house. A fire started in the car and neighbors, awakened by the noise rushed out and put the fire out. The paramedics arrived a few minutes later but she was trapped in her car. They needed to use the Jaws of Life to cut the roof off the car to get her out. It took 20 minutes before they could pull her out of the car. They laid her on the sidewalk and started CPR. But it was too late. She had broken her neck and she had died.

We later found out that she had been at party where there was alcohol. Lisa knew not to drink and drive. She said she would never drink and drive. But when you chose to drink alcohol you lose your ability to make good decisions and do things you would not normally do if you were sober.

We all have choices in life and there are consequences to our choices. When you choose to drink alcohol there are negative consequences. Alcohol related car crashes are the number one killer of young people. Plus thousands of young people are injured in cashes resulting in brain damage, broken bones and paralysis. Two boys in Escondido went to a party and were too drunk to drive home so they accepted a ride from someone else. Of course he was drunk also and they crashed. Both boys are now paralyzed. Alcohol is also involved with other deaths of young people such as suicide, homicide, drowning and alcohol poisoning. Many people don't realize you can die just from drinking alcohol, but alcohol is a poison and if you drink too much or too fast you will die. Over 5,000 people die every year from alcohol poisoning.

Why did Lisa start drinking again? TV and movies might have influenced her. By the time you reach 21 you have seen over 150, 000 beer commercials. They are brainwashing you into thinking alcohol is fun and romantic. They don't tell you the problems caused from drinking. From nausea and headaches to DUI's, arrests, crimes, and death. When you drink you do things you might not normally do that can hurt you or other people. Alcohol is involved with over 90 % of the rapes in college, plus unplanned and unprotected sex resulting in STD's, Aids and pregnancy.

With prom and graduation approaching there will be many parties being held, some, where alcohol will be served. Some adults host alcohol parties and take the keys away but there are other problems from drinking alcohol besides drinking and driving. Young guys can take advantage of girls when they are intoxicated. Many times fights break out. Recently two girls were killed walking home from such a party because they tried to cross the freeway. There is now a social Host Ordinance that fines adults for hosting such parties.

If you think your own actions don't affect other people, think again. When you drink around your friends it influences them to drink with you and they might get hurt or hurt other people. And you might influence a younger brother or sister to drink causing them the problems from alcohol. You worry your parents and your family.

You don't need all the problems that alcohol causes. And you don't need to be high to have fun.

Lisa's death has had a devastating effect on our family. We miss Lisa so much. Our lives will never be the same. I cry myself to sleep every night. I have stomach pains and ache all over. I can't focus or remember things I need to do. I know what heartbreak means because my heart literally hurts all the time.

This didn't have to happen. This should not have happened. She made a choice to drink. Now it is your turn to make a choice. Please make the right one. Don't Drink...

Remember you are not invincible!

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