Ending drunk driving is goal of MADD's Jingle Bell 5K


by TINA SHIVELY / KVUE News and Photojournalist J.P. HARRINGTON

Bio | Email | Follow: @TinaS_KVUE


Posted on December 1, 2013 at 6:48 PM

Updated Sunday, Dec 1 at 6:54 PM

AUSTIN -- In an attempt to remember those impacted in the kind of accident that can change lives forever, the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Jingle Bell 5K brought more than 600 runners and walkers to the Domain in Austin.

"This kind of event gives people the opportunity to heal," said Jaime Gutierrez, the Executive Director of MADD Texas. "It gives the opportunity for us to make the public aware of the dangers of drinking and driving."

MADD said that in 2011 between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve, intoxicated driving was to blame for 931 deaths nationwide.

That's 931 too many, according to Mark Huber. He said these days, drinking and driving is no longer a mistake, it's a choice.

Huber called his 12-year-old daughter Jessica a "miracle." Jessica survived a horrific drunk driving accident in 2002, when her mother ran a red light on Highway 290 and collided with a truck. The then 19-month-old was hurt so badly, doctors told Huber they would not be able to save her.

Since the accident, Jessica had several facial reconstruction and brain surgeries, and there's still so much left to do.

"The nightmare never goes away," Mark Huber said. "11 years later, she still is going to require another facial reconstruction. That's titanium plates in her forehead, rebuilding her left cheekbone. It's financial. It's emotional. It's physical. The nightmare never goes away and it need not happen."

MADD helped Huber get Jessica's mother convicted of DWI.

As the bells worn by runners in the group's Jingle Bell 5K reminded racegoers of the holidays, Mark brought Jessica to the race to remind people that the choices they make can have a real impact; especially on the ones they love.

"It's not a matter of 'if', it's a matter of 'when'. It's going to happen to somebody you know. It could be in your own house. No child deserves this. No parent deserves to spend the holidays in the hospital with a child that need not be there," Huber said.