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Grieving Father Finds a New Way to Cope with His Loss

CNN reports the story of a father who desired to see change in his community after tragically losing his daughter in a DUI accident. In 2007, Leo McCarthy lost his daughter Mariah, while and her two friends were walking home. This girl was only 14 years old when the drunk driver came up on to the sidewalk and killed her. Mr. McCarthy chose an unusual way to cope with the tragic death of his daughter, by making a goal to protect other kids in his town from the same fate. The driver of the vehicle was only 20 years old, not even legally allowed to consume alcohol. The father, at his daughter’s funeral, made a very bold statement to those in attendance. Mr. McCarthy, along with other people who believed in his cause, promised $1,000 scholarships to students who promised that they wouldn’t drink or use drugs for the next four years of their adolescent life. He called the students to be active members of the community and to give back rather than spend their time wasting it on illegal activities.

Now, years down the line, over 140 high school graduates have been recipients of this man’s generous contributions in what he called “Mariah’s Challenge”. His goal with this challenge was to help students see that they don’t have to participate in these actions, that there is so much more to life than drinking and partying in high school. Mariah’s Challenge is done over the internet and any teen who wants to participate can sign up online. Upon the sign up, they are promising to never drink until they are legal, and that they will never get into a car with someone who has been drinking. When a student’s senior year of high school rolls around, they can apply for a scholarship of $1,000 dollars from the organization if they have followed through with the application terms of agreement. The application includes a short essay that discusses how the program changed or affected their life.

Butte, Montana has been known for decades as a town that enjoys their alcohol after a hard day’s work, because of that mindset underage drinking has become somewhat acceptable in their town. The town is known too for their character and hard work ethic, though they do drink a lot. McCarthy sees this challenge as a way to change the future for the people of his town, to find their relaxation and identity in something other than a drink. It is reported that Montana as a state ranks in the top five per capita in fatalities due to drunk driving accidents. Students that have received scholarships from the Mariah Challenge state that they see a slight change in the people of their town, as a result of McCarthy’s hope for change. One of the young girls, among others, says that the students are seeking for alternatives to drinking, and that slowly this town is making a change for the better.

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