One thousand eight hundred and twenty five. It reads like a large number but its true size might be best represented physically.

Kim Thomas is collecting 1,825 pairs of shoes to show just how big it is. The number is an estimate of how many people die in impaired driving crashes each year in Canada. Thomas’s son Brandon Thomas was 17 when he was killed by a drunk driver on a road outside Cochrane in December 2012.

“(This will) show how many lives are taken by drunk drivers every year in Canada,” said Heather Thompson, who is helping Thomas with the awareness effort.

“Her idea was seeing that many empty pairs of shoes would alarm people and maybe cause a shift in thinking and show how many people should be here today to wear their own shoes but aren’t because of the indiscretions of ... people who made selfish decisions.”

Thompson lost a childhood friend in an accident caused by an impaired driver in 2006.

“That was the first non-natural death that occurred in my life,” she said.

“There was no old age or terminal illness. It just happened and there was nothing I could do about it.”

She and three other volunteers are helping Thomas collect the shoes. More than 600 pairs have been gathered so far.

The shoes will be the centrepiece of an awareness campaign at the Calgary Courts Center on June 14. A similar event is being planned for the Cochrane court.

Thompson hopes personnel from fire, police and EMS would be there to educate people about the dangers of impaired driving. Emergency services has given the effort considerable support on social media, she said.

A petition will be circulated at both events calling for tougher penalties for people convicted of impaired driving causing death and to change the name of the charge to vehicular manslaughter.

Ryan Gibson, 24, was convicted of the crime for his role in Brandon Thomas’ death, and last month sentenced to two years and eight months jail.

Kim Thomas slammed the punishment as “ridiculous.”

“Because of impaired driving, people are losing their lives and families have to live without their children, brothers or sisters,” she said after the sentencing.

“If we keep with these ridiculous sentences, it’s not going to stop.”

Members of the public can donate shoes until June 13 at 12 West Kerfoot Pl. in Cochrane, or in Coach Hill (contact Heather at 587-216-7629 for address) and Erin Woods (contact Stacy 403-389-9761).

Further information is available at https://facebook.com/RipBrandonThomas.

Source: The Calgary Herald


Last updated on: 2014-06-17 | Link to this post