Maryland Volunteer Spotlight: December 2021 – Jan Withers

Our daughter, Alisa Joy, was a very kind person, as well as funny, talented, and a bit ethereal.  Friends still tell me stories of her kindness that touched them deeply.  She loved to dance – in fact, I felt like she was dancing in utero, she kicked so much.  She became a beautiful ballerina, and, truly, it was her life. When she was 15 years old, she was spending the night with her best friend and another girl during spring vacation of their sophomore year in high school.  It was April 15, 1992.  Two senior boys invited them to the go-cart track and her friend’s parents allowed it.   However, the boys had other plans.  They retrieved 2 cases of beer they had hidden and proceeded to a local pond where the boys drank all the beer.  I learned later the girls did not drink because of Alisa’s protest.  On the way home, the impaired driver drove at over 100mph on a country road, eventually losing control of the car.  The right side of the car was ripped off by a guardrail before it shot 80 feet in the air,  split in half and landed upside down.  Alisa was thrown out the side of the vehicle that had been ripped off, through a forest of trees before she landed in the woods.  She died of her injuries in shock trauma then next morning on April 16th.  The other children in the car survived.

1. What is your proudest achievement as a MADD volunteer?     I believe I am emotionally healthy today because of the support I received by the MADD victim advocate.  When I talked with her she was so patient and caring, giving not only important information, but an ear to listen.  Now as a victim advocate myself, I find it most rewarding to be able to reach out and help other survivors across the rocky path.  My proudest moments are when I see them smile once again.

2. This work can be hard. What gets you out of bed in the morning to further our cause?

I find the hardest work is trying to convince lawmakers to vote for lifesaving measures to prevent further injuries and deaths caused by impaired driving.  Indeed, though, working to pass legislation that will eliminated impaired driving is what gets me out of bed.  Now advanced technology is on our horizon and with the passage of the HALT Act, we will see that end in our lifetimes.

3.How would you describe the work you do with MADD?

All I do with MADD is to honor Alisa and cherish the lives of her sister and brother.  This work is not ‘work’ but my passion.  It is so fulfilling .  Indeed, the love that I give out to others who have been victimized comes back ten-fold. The love is two-way and so very uplifting. 

4.What is your favorite holiday and why?

 I think my favorite holiday is Easter.  It is the renewal of life and the joy of spring. 

5. Pineapple on Pizza – Yay or Nay? What is your favorite pizza topping? YAY – Pineapple on pizza, with some ham!  So good!!