‘Live Wide Open’ scholarships presented
by DAVID DAVIS Managing Editor
May 12, 2013 | 452 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
‘Live Wide Open’
Dustin Ledford
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Six high school seniors won recognition the final week of school from the third annual Dustin Ledford “Live Wide Open” Scholarship Foundation.

The annual scholarship to graduating seniors is based on athletics, the impact of drunk driving on their lives and a written essay on the dangers of drinking and driving.

The 2013 winners were Jacob Fowler, Bradley Central, who received $1,000; Carly Morris, Cleveland High School, $500; Joshua Poole and Seth Campbell, Walker Valley, received $750 each. Devin Kersey, Bradley Central; and Chelsea Hall of Cleveland High received $500 and $250 as honorable mentions.

Dustin Ledford, 24, the son of Danny and Kim Ledford, was killed July 10, 2010, in a head-on crash on APD 40 shortly after 911 Dispatchers issued a “Be On the Lookout” for a vehicle traveling north in the southbound lane.

His parents, Danny and Kim Ledford, established the legacy fund in 2011.

Kim said more was given to BCHS because that is where Dustin attended school and played baseball. Campbell’s life has been heavily impacted because his father is Bradley County deputy Capt. W. G. (Buck) Campbell. W.G. Campbell has spent much time away from home investigating accidents involving impaired drivers.

The following are the three winning essays:

n Carly, daughter of Kevin and Melissa Morris, wrote, “Losing a family member is always difficult, but I feel that losing someone to something as senseless as drunk driving is something family members can never get over, especially when their loved one is a child.

“According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2010, 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. Many people may not be disturbed by facts, statistics, numbers, and data related to drinking and driving such as this is, but what happens when we put a face to each of 10,228 taken lives? What happens when we hear the story of every life affected by each of those deaths? Maybe then, each face would never be forgotten and every driver would understand that they are not only putting themselves at risk but also every other life they come across while driving.

“Although I have never been directly affected by the loss of a loved one because of a drunk driver, I know many who have and the utter devastation they face. To me, the most disturbing part of the issue is that every intoxication related accident is 100 percent preventable.”

n Kim said Jacob’s essay puts a face on one of the 10,228 victims.

“Jacob’s brother was killed by a drunk driver,” Kim said. “His family lives the same life we do.”

Jacob is the son of Barry and Alisa Fowler. He wrote his first-person account of when he first learned of his brother’s death.

“… I am informed that the accident was a drunken driving accident. I know this cannot be true because my brother has never touched a drop of alcohol. Then I am informed that he was in the passenger’s seat of the car and the driver was intoxicated when the crash had happened. This hits me so hard because I know it wasn't his fault.

“I am so against drinking and driving because of how it has taken my brother, my best friend away from me. I will never forget how my brother was taken away from me due to a drinking and driving accident.

“I will always remember my brother. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about him. I have to pass the tree every day that took my brother's life. All I can think about is how much I miss and love him.

“I will never forget the day this happened and all because he got in the car with an intoxicated driver that took my brother's life away in an instant. I pray for all the people that think they can get behind the wheel of a car and think they can drive home. It is wrong and low in so many ways for people not to have enough consideration that they want to put everybody's life at risk to drive while intoxicated.

“My heart goes out to you, the Ledford family, because I know exactly what you have gone through by losing my brother, the person who I love most on this world. I will never forget what happened that summer night.”

n Joshua, son of Joey and Mitsi Poole, put another face on a victim of driving under the influence.

“A story that has impacted me was about a friend of my brother's that I looked up to because he was a great baseball player,” Joshua explained in his essay. “He was a senior in high school and had already signed a scholarship to play for a D-1 college.

“After leaving a party one night, he lost control of his truck and hit a tree. He almost killed himself and his girlfriend. Of course, he had been drinking.

“This story, unlike some, has a happy ending. Mikey and his girlfriend lived. In fact, they will both graduate from college next month, but Mikey won't be walking on the stage to receive his diploma because he lost his leg in the accident.

“Mikey's dream of playing college baseball never came true. I can only imagine how much it must have hurt when he lost it all — over one night's decision to drink and drive. He almost cost someone else her dreams as well.

“Today Mikey speaks to students about the dangers of drinking and driving and last I heard — he still loves the game. I will continue to choose not to put things into my body that could possibly damage my baseball hopes and dreams.

“As a team leader, I will encourage my teammates to do the same. Hopefully, others will follow and maybe one day drinking and driving will no longer be a worry.”

Chelsea Hall is the daughter of Kim Hall and Brian Stiltner and Devin Kersey is the son of Greg and Angela Kersey.