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Awareness event Saturday raises $1,400 for MADD
Lambert students aim to shift perceptions on drinking dangers
Students of Lambert High School in Forsyth County lounge in truck beds and the open cargo spaces of SUVs, waiting for the screening of Captain America: Civil War at the drive-in movie event held Saturday to raise awareness on the dangers of drinking and driving. - photo by Alexander Popp

Ever since tragedy struck Lambert High School last summer when 15-year-old Eliza Farrell was killed by an alleged drunk driver, three of her friends have taken it upon themselves to try and save lives by changing their peers’ perception on the dangers of drinking and driving.

Last weekend, 11th graders, Felicia Ling, Meg Dpollack and Lauren Webb hosted a drive-in move night screening of “Captain America: Civil War” in the parking lot of Lambert High School as a venue to discuss the dangers of drinking and driving, raise money for Mothers against Drunk Driving and memorialize their friend.

“If we can reach out to just one person and make them think twice about making that choice, then honestly, we will have achieved our goal,” Dpollack said before the lights went down and the movie started.

Dpollack explained that they chose to do a drive-in movie event because of how unusual and fun the idea sounded, while still keeping the emphasis on driving dangers.

“We liked the connection of “drive in” and we wanted to go out of the box with the event and do something that had never been done at Lambert before,” she said. “We wanted something that could stand out in their mind, so they can remember this night and what it was actually for.”

She said that since Farrell was killed in 2017, they have all seen a perception shift in how the students view drunk driving and about how they talk about it with each other. 

“People have started to think a lot more about their choices. They think, ‘This happened to someone that I loved, and I don’t want it to happen again,’” she said.

Webb said the friends “were a little shaken and our community was a little shaken after it happened… After what happened, it shook our community a little bit and everybody was a little more on point about making sure their friends got home safe and making sure they weren’t drinking and driving either.”

Webb said they have found it easier and easier to talk to their peers about the dangers of drinking and driving, and call them out for it when necessary.

“Because we are the same age as them, it’s easier to connect to them, easier for us to tell them that it’s not OK and it’s not cool to drink and drive. It’s not even cool to drink underage,” she said.

One of Eliza Farrell’s many close friends, Vivian Underwood, was at the event Saturday and said she was heartened by the display of supportive remembrance.

“It’s really nice to see all the community come together,” Underwood said. “It’s heartwarming to see all of my peers and people I didn’t even know come out and support us.”

Underwood agreed with Dpollack and Webb’s idea of a changed drinking and driving perception at the school.

“When you are in high school, you hear stuff a lot. Like freshman year, sophomore year I was seeing people going to parties and they had to drive home drunk.  Now I don’t hear that, and when I do, people say, ‘you shouldn’t do that; it’s not ok,”’ she said.

Before the movie started Saturday night, Kali Robinson, a spokesperson for Mothers against Drunk Driving spoke to the gathered students and accepted a check from the students.

“Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s mission is to talk to young people and parents about the dangers of drunk driving … with young people we are asking them to take a pledge to not drink and drive, at least until you are 21 and can plan ahead,” Robinson said.

Webb said Monday that with ticket sales and donations from the community, the event raised more than $1,400 for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, but that the money was secondary to reaching their peers.

 “If we can just stop one person from making the choice later on it’s worth it,” she said.