The Hancock family has been forced into a club it never wanted to be a part of.

What parent would want to be part of a club whose child was killed by a drunk driver? No one would ever want that, said Kim Hancock, but “we are in that club now.”

“In the last three years, we've been to hell and back,” she said.

On Nov. 1, MADD Canada launched Project Red Ribbon in Sudbury. The campaign runs from Nov. 1 to January 2 to raise awareness about the dangers of impaired driving, especially during the busy Christmas and New Year holiday season.

Red ribbons are distributed to Canadians to tie on their vehicles, keychains, purses, briefcases or backpacks as a symbol of their commitment to always drive sober.

In August 2014, DJ Hancock was killed by a drunk driver. He was on his way home from a hockey tryout when the vehicle he was driving was hit. He died at the scene. It's a story that is well-known in Sudbury, and across all of Canada, said Patricia Hynes-Coates, MADD Canada national president, whose stepson, Nicholas Coates, was killed by a drunk driver in 2013.

That's why the organization made DJ the face of this year's campaign.

“DJ was young, he was very Canadian, his story resonated in the community, and it affected a lot of people throughout all of Canada,” she said. People have realized that, if this could happen to DJ and his family, then it could happen to them.”

Hynes-Coates knows full well the pain that comes with losing a child at the hands of a drunk driver. 

“It's devastating,” she said. “Whenever I hear of another person being killed by an impaired driver, I get so frustrated, and it just makes me dig in my heels even more to find a way to stop this from happening.” 

Every year in Canada, hundreds of people are killed and tens of thousands are injured in crashes involving alcohol and/or drugs.

“With DJ's tragic story, and the stories of so many other victims and survivors if impaired driving as our motivation, MADD Canada volunteers will be out in full force this holiday season, handing out red ribbons and reminding people about the dangers and consequences of impaired driving,” Hynes-Coates said.

For the Hancock family, they take solace on the fact DJ's story may help save lives.

“DJ's life was taken when it shouldn't have been taken,” Kim Hancock said. “He was innocent in the whole situation. This emotional roller coaster of a life we have been put into is terrible. We know we need to do this.”

It's also a way for the family to keep DJ's memory alive.

“As a parent, you always want your child's memory to live on. You don't want people to forget him. The face people will see his photo all over Canada means people will be thinking about him, and thinking about the dangers of drinking and driving. So many people know our story, and not just here in Sudbury, and when you put a face with it, it's no longer just a story. It takes on new meaning and has much more impact.”

Action Sudbury is preparing for its own Red Ribbon campaign launch on Nov. 25. The Festive RIDE program will also kick off that day.



Last updated on: 2016-12-06 | Link to this post