State Farm® Drive the Dollars grants $5,000 each to schools in Madison, Newell and Rapid City
Sioux Falls, S.D., June 11, 2011 - Students at Madison High School, Newell School District and South Middle School in Rapid City are working to reduce distracted driving and other risky driving behaviors that lead to motor vehicle crashes, the number one killer of teens.
On June 11 in Sioux Falls, all three schools were awarded a $5,000 State Farm Drive the Dollars grant to implement their anti-distracted driving campaigns during the coming school year. Drive the Dollars is a program sponsored by State Farm and inspired by a partnership with 2010 Miss South Dakota Loren Vaillancourt.
The presentations took place before the Join the Race against Distracted Driving 5 K walk/run at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls, sponsored by the Miss South Dakota Organization, State Farm and the South Dakota Safety Council.
Their goal in sponsoring the race is to call attention to the issue of distracted driving, and to educate and ultimately change behaviors. All proceeds of the race will go to distracted driving awareness programs. Before the race starts, former Miss South Dakota and current State Senate Transportation Chair Shantel Krebs, Loren Vaillancourt and others spoke about distracted driving.
All race participants received a t-shirt provided by Sioux Falls Cadillac, a coupon for a free Otter App, an application for smart phones that reduces texting while driving hazards, and other items provided by State Farm. The run winner will receive a free pair of shoes from the Runner’s Block and prizes were drawn at the end of the walk.
At the Miss America pageant in January, Vaillancourt blogged about her experiences and her anti-distracted driving platform on the State Farm Teen Driver Safety Facebook page. The number of “likes” was tracked from Jan. 4 - 15. For every “like,“ State Farm was to donate $1 to the Drive the Dollars grant program. During the eleven-day Facebook drive, Vaillancourt’s blogs received nearly 2,000 “likes.” Due to the quality and number of grant proposals received by State Farm, the insurance company donated $15,000 to the South Dakota-exclusive grant program.
In May 2009, Vaillancourt lost her only sibling because of the consequences of distracted driving. As Miss South Dakota, Vaillancourt was in a unique position to share her family’s emotional story about what happened to her 21-year-old brother Kelson and draw attention to the terrible risks associated with distracted driving.
“Distracted driving is intentional neglect that endangers other people on the road - people on the road like my brother, your family, and your friends,” Vaillancourt said. “These crashes are 100 percent preventable. My brother Kelson’s crash was 100 percent preventable. I can tell you that nothing is worth this kind of loss, this kind of pain. This race is a great opportunity for people to come together for a common purpose: decrease the number of crashes and save lives”.
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The Miss America Organization is one of the nation's leading achievement programs and the world's largest provider of scholarship assistance for young women. Last year, the Miss America Organization and its state and local organizations made available more than $45 million in cash and scholarship assistance.