Lutzie 43 + Children’s of Alabama
The Lutzie 43 Foundation has been fortunate to partner with Children’s of Alabama to help end distracted and impaired driving. This partnership started in the fall of 2014 when Marie Crew, director of the Safe Kids Alabama, reached out to Mike Lutzenkirchen, Philip’s father and executive director of the foundation, about speaking at a new program they were starting. Read more about our partnership with Children’s of Alabama and how together we are making our roads safer in this Q&A session with Maire!
Introduce yourself and what you do at Children’s of Alabama.
My name is Marie Crew; I am the Director of Safe Kids Alabama at Children’s. Safe Kids Alabama is a State Coalition of Safe Kids Worldwide. Our mission is to decrease unintentional injuries in children and youth up to 18 years old. Our coalition focuses on motor vehicle transportation, which is the number one cause of unintentional injuries and deaths in Alabama for children and youth. We provide education to children, teens, parents, caregivers and the community, including child passenger safety, pedestrian safety, heatstroke in vehicles, safety in and around vehicles and teen safe driving.
How did you first hear of the Lutzie 43 Foundation?
I met Mike Lutzenkirchen before I had heard of the Lutzie 43 Foundation. Safe Kids Alabama and other organizations working to reduce teen driving crashes formed a partnership in spring 2014 to host teen safe driving programs across the state with State Farm funding. We were planning to have an event in Auburn, and as a lifelong Auburn fan, I had followed Philip’s career and saw him play for Auburn, including at the 2010 National Championship game. I learned of Philip’s passing the morning of the accident when one of my daughters texted me. I was in church when I received the news. Philip’s death broke my heart. I have sons and had a son in love around the same age. My heart, thoughts and prayers went out to his family.
When we started planning our event in Auburn, I found Mike’s email address and sent a message asking if he would meet me to discuss speaking at the event. I had no idea if I would hear back from him since he did not know who I was. He answered me almost immediately, and we set up a time to meet. We asked if he would speak to the teens in Auburn during our event, and Mike agreed to speak at all of our events in spring 2015. His grief was palpable, but he has a passion for carrying on Philip’s legacy and educating the public on the dangers of unsafe driving.
Describe the UrKeys2Drv program. What is the purpose of this event? What are the goals of UrKeys2Drv and how has it changed in 2020 due to COVID-19.
Children’s of Alabama, State Farm, Alabama Dept. Of Public Health, Alabama Dept. of Transportation and Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Alabama collaborated to form UrKeys2Drv. The purpose of UrKeys2Drv is to provide education, primarily to teens, about safe teen driving to reduce motor vehicle crashes, injuries and fatalities. We invite numerous schools to send students to participate in hands-on activities and listen to various presenters. Mike Lutzenkirchen has been our keynote speaker at all 19 events through 2019.
This year has been a challenge with COVID-19 and the inability to have in-person events. We are currently pivoting to be able to provide some of the same education virtually. We hope to deliver parts of our programs virtually utilizing pre-recorded videos, presentations, interactive games and activities.
This video will be utilized by Children’s as part of our virtual school programs for safe teen driving. The Alabama Civil Justice Foundation funded this video.
How does Lutzie 43 fit into the UrKeys2Drv program?
As our keynote speaker at UrKeys2Drv, Mike can speak to the teens in a way they relate to because of his story. There is rarely any noise in the room while Mike is speaking. Many students come up to talk one on one with him after he finishes speaking. They commented on their evaluation of how impactful he was and that they would change the way they drive. Our relationship with Mike and Lutzie 43 has blossomed well beyond being the keynote speaker at our UrKeys2Drv event. Mike and our team at Children’s partner to go to individual schools together to provide various programs. Our team participates in the Adaptive PE Field Day in Auburn that the Lutzie 43 Foundation has hosted for children with special needs for several years. Children’s of Alabama also awarded Mike the Jim Dearth Award to help provide the 43 Lessons to Legacy Curriculum digitally. I am so glad that our missions go hand and hand and make both programs stronger. What started with asking him to speak one time has grown way beyond anything I could have dreamed. I look forward to the future and what we can accomplish.
Why are programs like UrKeys2Drv so vital to promoting safe driving? In your job, how have you personally seen the effects of distracted and impaired driving?
All of our teen safe driving programs that we provide, including when we collaborate with our partner organizations for UrKeys2Drv, are vital to provide education about the risky behaviors of teens when they drive and how to drive safely. We provide much more information that students receive in driver’s education, and all students do not have the opportunity to take driver’s education. Unfortunately, I view reports from our Trauma Coordinator at Children’s that provide information on teens brought to our Emergency Department due to car crashes. So many of the injuries and fatalities are preventable. Many times, if the teen would have just worn their seatbelt, they would survive their crash, or their injuries would be much less severe.
Why do you believe in what the Lutzie 43 Foundation is doing?
I believe in what the Lutzie 43 Foundation is doing for several reasons. First and foremost, we share a passion for saving the lives of our teen drivers and passengers. I see the difference Mike’s presentations make just by watching the teens’ faces while he speaks. Also, distracted and risky driving is an epidemic in the U.S. No organization or agency has one symbol that everyone recognizes to remind people not to drive distracted or drive unsafely. The Lutzie 43 Foundation has a symbol that can be utilized and recognized by all ages and across the U.S. to remind all to drive safely. I hope that every vehicle I see has this symbol in or on their vehicle in the next few years.