Sometimes to make an impact on others it takes passionate advocates joining together to share their message.
UFG Insurance agent, Mark Warren of Plainview, Texas, is one such advocate who knows how to bring influencers together to make an impact on the next generation.
Tragically Mark lost his only son, Clay, in a hazing-related accident in 2002 while he was a freshman at Texas Tech University. Fraternity friends who were sleep deprived ended up rolling a vehicle from which Clay was thrown. He died a week later from his injuries.
Warren and his wife, Freda, transformed their grief into action by going to the state capitol in Austin and proposing legislation to help eliminate such tragedies through education. The law they helped pass requires every university in the state of Texas with fraternities or sororities to provide risk management and safety training to its organization each semester.
After settling a lawsuit with the fraternity involved, the Warrens also endowed a risk management program at Texas Tech University. “What happened when our son died was a recipe for disaster. The system was a mess so we wanted to make sure we were helping educate these young people, 18 and 19 year olds.”
The Clay R. Warren Risk Management Retreat has happened annually since 2005. “It tries to teach these young men and young women to plan things in a safe manner instead of doing something that can really hurt someone,” said Warren. “We’ve had great success with this program.”
Then last fall, Warren attended a UFG Agency Round Table meeting in Lubbock where the UFG “Worth It” program was presented. “Recognizing the importance of the message, particularly for college students, Mark asked us if we could arrange to do a repeat performance at Texas Tech,” said George Robben, assistant vice president and risk control/audit manager in UFG’s Webster office.
“When I heard about ‘Worth It’ I thought it would be a very worthy thing to get involved with at our retreat,” Warren agreed. “It is something I think can be incorporated into a lot of areas because distracted driving is so prevalent with young adults. I told George that I think the ‘Worth It’ program is something to approach the national fraternities with to incorporate a distracted driving program with them. And I will help in any way that I can.”
In January of this year, “Worth It” was shared with 560 student leaders on the Texas Tech campus. Students were encouraged to take the message back to their Greek houses and dorms, back to their friends and classmates, and back to their families and communities. “They were excited about the scholarship program and appreciated the opportunity to share any distracted driving stories of their own and the lessons learned,” Robben said.
Students who attended the “Worth It” presentation at Texas Tech later reached out to let organizers know the information shared really hit home and reminded them to reflect on distracted driving scares they have experienced in their own lives.
“When I first got my license in high school, I was on my way to work early in the morning and I was running late,” recalled Texas Tech student Karly Quinn. “I was on my phone checking emails and sending text messages while I was driving and while I was not paying attention I crashed into a median on a main road and blew out both of my left tires. Thankfully, no one else was involved in the accident and I was not hurt. This experience was a reality check for me regarding the dangers of distracted driving. I am very lucky that the situation was not worse, but since have pledged to advocate against distracted driving and have encouraged my friends to do the same.”
Student Allison Briggs also shared her experience. “I was driving home to Dallas from Texas Tech University for spring break when I got distracted while I was on my phone texting and driving and I rear-ended a F150 Truck. Thankfully no one was injured in the wreck but now I’m more aware of how texting and driving can be deadly and always encourage my friends to not text and drive.”
Both Warren and Robben are thrilled to have shared the “Worth It” message with some of Texas Tech’s student leaders and look forward to reaching even more people in the future.
“We were very happy to see the students engaged with this,” said Robben. “I get the sense that there is a movement afoot in educating students. And I see great things coming from this generation.”
“This was one of those ‘perfect storm’ opportunities where great community leadership met with a great message and great material and a difference was made in 560 young lives,” he added. “I encourage everyone to look for opportunities to share the ‘Worth It’ message, whether on your own or partnering with another individual or organization. Create your own perfect storm and be the reason someone changes their driving habits for good.”