Head of local MADD chapter devoted to spreading the word
Appeal Staff Writer
The Lyon County Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers is commemorating its 15th year. The message that people shouldn’t drive while intoxicated still appears to be news to many, however, according to Laurel Stadler, the organization’s director.
Area television news anchor Bill Brown. Reno elementary school principal Ed Heywood. Carson City Mayor Marv Teixeira. They are just a few Northern Nevadans – albeit high-profile ones – recently arrested for driving while intoxicated who immediately came to Stadler’s mind.
“Drunk drivers come from every single group in our society: teaching, law enforcement, clergy, soccer coaches,” she said. “Unfortunately, innocent victims also come from every facet of our society.”
Stadler, 53, has two children ages 13 and 19 and lives in Carson City. She’s originally from Glendale-La Crescenta, a community in Southern California. She operates her own advertising specialties distribution business, and has lived in Northern Nevada since 1984.
“I wanted to do something to keep my kids safe,” Stadler said when asked why she wanted to be active in the organization. She is one of the founders of this chapter, the only chartered MADD group in Nevada. “I felt strongly that it was something I should do to keep my family and other families safe.”
She had donated money to MADD for years, but her concern about drunken driving greatly intensified when she lived in Dayton during the early 1990s.
Vehicle crashes on Highway 50 East near Dayton Hill too often involved drunk or drugged drivers. The accident that resulted in the April 1990 death of Michelle Jacoboni, age 22, prompted Stadler to actively stop people from driving while intoxicated, she said. Jacoboni’s mother, Judy, was one of the other founders of the Lyon MADD.
Stadler takes every opportunity to remind people that driving while intoxicated isn’t a simple mistake or error in judgment – it’s a crime. She frequently calls, writes or walks up to people and politely, yet firmly, lets them know why.
“When a person chooses to drink, then chooses to drive that’s criminal and, very often, deadly behavior,” she said. “It’s a crime to drive while intoxicated.”
People under the age of 21 shouldn’t drink at all, she said.
The group has 10-15 members to carry out a variety of endeavors: education, prevention, lobbying, victim assistance and occasional court monitoring of DUI cases. Members are extremely busy and would like to have time to do even more to promote their cause.
People who have been affected by drunken drivers, for example, are greatly needed as volunteers. Their stories of pain and loss often make people who have driven while intoxicated truly regret their actions. This is why victim impact panels are so important in lessening the likelihood that someone will repeat the offense and are part of someone’s sentence. They learn what could happen if they drive while intoxicated, she said.
“And most victims find it an important part of their healing experience to tell their stories to others,” Stadler said.
Contact MADD at 246-7522 or visit their Web site at http://www.maddnv.org.
“If you do nothing, you can be guaranteed nothing will change,” she emphasized.
• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber @nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.
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