Editorial: Making something positive from a tragedy

The Charleston Tennis Club will host a fundraising event Friday evening from 5 to 8. The event will feature a tennis round robin, cookout, music, instruction for younger children, clown and face painting, rock wall climbing, and obstacle course, and more.

But make no mistake. This is no ordinary fundraising event. It will be the 6th Annual Memorial Willy Shuman Family Fun Night.

Why is it so out of the ordinary? Perhaps because of the dedication and lengths that Willy Shuman’s family has gone to to provide leadership and education to teens toward good decision making.

“We want to promote positive decision making in teens,” Willy’s mom, Jane Shuman told reporter Ashley Craig in a 2011 Daily Mail story.

“I think it’s really been lost in society that we are responsible for the decisions we make and we have to live with the consequences of those decisions.”

Jane Shuman wants teens to make good decisions. Her son Willy usually did, as he became a stand out student and athlete at George Washington High School. But one poor decision cost him his life. Nineteen-year old Willy rode in a car with a friend who was drunk and, not wearing a seat belt, died in a car crash in the early morning hours of June 20, 2009.

Willy had graduated from GW near the top of his class just weeks earlier and was due to enter the U.S. Air Force Academy in four days.

The academy had recruited Willy because of his grades, leadership, and tennis skills, all due to good decisions Willy had made over his young life.

Through her work with The Willy Foundation, which the family established in the months after his death, Jane Shuman travels to local schools and, alongside law enforcement officers, educates kids on the dangers of drunken driving and not wearing a seat belt.

You’ve probably seen the Willy Foundation’s logo anytime you’ve driven by a school: a blue and silver (Air Force Academy colors) tennis-ball shaped logo with Willy’s initials WAS, which also stand for “Wear a Seat Belt.”

Everyone, drivers and passengers, need to remember to Wear A Seatbelt while in a vehicle. Everyone needs to decide not to drink and drive or ride with those who do.

And anyone who supports good leadership and decision making skills by teens is encouraged to take part in the Willy Shuman Memorial Family Fun Night.

Learn more at www.thewillyfoundation.org.

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