White River, SD
A mother's mission to end drunk driving among teens in her community is now stronger than ever. Joyce Glynn lost her son, Michael, in May 2006 while he was driving home drunk from a party. The death happened just hours after graduation at the White River school, but now Glynn's mission is to keep that from ever happening again.
Usually, you think about drums keeping beat while lyrics share the message. But this drum group known as "Sheltered Reality" changes that.
"They use motivation and they talk in the kids' language and in things that kids like, which is music, to get them motivated and excited about it and that way they'll remember the message too," Glynn said.
Glynn invited the drum group to be part of White River's prevention day after seeing a performance last year. Students of all ages heard the story of motivation, but it's Glynn's story that has changed many lives in the area. In memory of her son, Glynn has challenged White River students to stay sober for their entire senior year.
"We signed a sheet saying that if we stay alcohol free for the whole year, then at the end of the year she'll give us $100 in cash," Skylar Bordeaux said.
While this year's senior class is the seventh to take the challenge, the reasons remain mostly the same from year one. For some students, it’s personal.
"Ask any Native American Family and they'll tell you that alcoholism is a part of it and it's just a part of mine, not directly, like my mom or dad or sisters or brothers, it's just prevalent," Bordeaux said.
Others want to do it to set an example.
"All the little kids look up to us because we're older and I think they want to be more like us, so yeah, I want to be a good role model for them," Senior Jessie Rounsley said.
For the most part, White River students say the challenge is successful and has promoted a sober, and more safe, senior year.
“They have to tell Joyce to her face the truth, and I don't know if some could lie to her face so I think they stay honest to get it," Rounsley said.
But Glynn knows that not every student will collect that $100 gift at graduation time. She knows some will succeed, while others struggle and some will fail. But regardless, the challenge is promoting a safer community by bringing alcohol awareness out of the dark.
"Usually kids will want to hide it and be secretive about it and not tell their parents that they drank. Or the parents don't want to know that their kids drank. Now this gives everybody an opportunity to talk about it," Glynn said.
And that conversation is priceless, while the $100 prizes are a small price to pay for a woman who lost so much with her son's decision to get behind the wheel.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
A misspelling was corrected in this story.