Mother remembers daughter’s legacy by educating others

October 13, 2011
By Chris Saunders
Emily May '05

Emily May '05

Becky Kennedy says her only child, Emily May ’05, dreamed of a long career in sports marketing. After graduating cum laude from the Poole College of Management, she was primed for that goal.

But in May 2007, a few days after Emily had interviewed for a job in that profession, that dream was taken away from her when she died in an accident as a passenger in a car driven by a drunken driver.

Kennedy says she knew immediately that she wanted to do something to memorialize Emily and to educate youth and families about the consequences of drunken driving.

“I didn’t want my daughter to be a statistic,” Kennedy says. “I didn’t want her to be forgotten. And I didn’t want other families to go through utter hell.”

In 2009, Kennedy and her husband, Chuck, started Emily’s Plea, a nonprofit aimed at reducing the number of alcohol-related deaths in the U.S. The two speak at high schools and at government agencies, giving voice to the tragedy and hurt a drunken driver can deliver to a family. Kennedy sold her Greensboro hair salon so she could dedicate more time to her efforts.

This Saturday, Emily’s Plea will host the second annual Emily May Invitational Charity Tournament at Jamestown Park Golf Course. The cost to enter the captain’s choice tourney is $60 per player, and prizes will be awarded to first, second and third place. Click on the Emily’s Plea website above for more information.

Events like this weekend’s tournament raise money that Kennedy can use to develop different ways to raise awareness. Last year, the proceeds went to the production of On Impact, a professional video that portrays the realities of a fatal crash. This year, she hopes to raise enough money to put up billboards.

While Emily’s Plea, which is an affiliate of the Crash Prevention Network of North Carolina, offers awareness, it also gives Kennedy a purpose.

“There’s so much missing from our life,” she says about Emily’s death. “You have to learn to live with it or you turn into a vegetable. …Now I just want to save other young people.”

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