Kayla Thomas, left, and Kim Thomas, right, were thankful Ken Chester took the time to drive 610 pairs of donated shoes to Cochrane for the Empty Shoe Campaign June 14.

Due to an overwhelming response from across the country and even south of the border, Cochrane’s Kim Thomas held the first annual ‘Empty Shoe Campaign' at Mitford Park June 14.

With the help of community members and members of Families for Justice — the grassroots organization seeking tougher sentences for those who take lives while driving drunk through a petition — Kim and advocates for change laid out 1,825 pairs of shoes in rows to represent the average number of lives taken in Canada each year (five per day).

Families of victims also posted photos of their lost loved ones amid the shoes.

An estimated 4,000 pairs have been donated to the cause to date.

Kim’s son, Brandon Thomas, was killed at the age of 17 in December of 2012.

“On average we lose 1,400 to 2,100 lives to this crime, which has become the number one criminal cause of death in Canada,” said Kim in her speech to a Mitford crowd filled with families of victims of drunk driving and various first responders who attended the event to pay their respects, pray and mourn for those lost.

“Each day in Canada we lose four to six people who are killed by an impaired driver, and 190 people per day are injured. The cost to taxpayers in Canada in 2011 was $84.4 billion in related expenses.”

“Every one of these pairs of shoes represents someone who had the right to their life, and who should still be here alive today.”

Adam Lovia, a public education officer with EMS, also made a speech, as did Cochrane councillor Morgan Nagel.

Hervin Pesa, whose 20-year-old brother Francis was the first to have lost his life to drunk driving this year in Calgary, also made a speech.

“From a paramedic’s point of view, yes we’re there to save lives…but after the fact, it resonates with us as well,” said Lovia.

“Every one of these deaths were preventable,” he said, indicating the rows of empty shoes laid out in front of the stage at Mitford Park.

Kim thanked the community of Cochrane for continued support, the media for their ‘compassion and respect’ and Ken Chester of Northern Resource Trucking — who donated his time and resources to drive out 610 pairs of donated shoes from Saskatchewan for the event.

The shoes will be donated to non-profit societies.

On May 12, Ryan Jordan Gibson was sentenced to two years, eight months behind bars for the collision that took Brandon’s life.

Back in January, the Calgary man pleaded guilty to driving over .08 causing death and driving over .08 causing bodily harm.

Gibson is appealing the sentence.

Source: Cochrane Eagle


Last updated on: 2014-09-18 | Link to this post