‘Race for Change’ 5K will support advocacy work of Brian MattersWritten by Danielle Stanton | | email@example.com
The night Brian Hoeflinger died changed many people’s lives forever, none more so than his parents and family.
The 18-year-old Ottawa Hills High School senior was killed when he crashed his vehicle into a tree after drinking at a party. The tragedy propelled his parents into a life of advocacy.
Since their son’s fatal Feb. 1, 2013, accident, Drs. Brian and Cindy Hoeflinger are passionately working toward a world free from underage drinking and driving.
On May 3, they will host an inaugural 5K race that will take runners past the crash site.
“It’s symbolic for the race,” Brain Hoeflinger, a neurosurgeon, said. “It’s about awareness to show where Brian died.”
The course will wind through the streets of Ottawa Hills and onto Edgehill Road, where Brian’s vehicle left the road, struck a tree near a bridge over the Ottawa River and caught fire. Brian had been coming home from a schoolmate’s party.
The Brian Matters Challenge Run “A Race for Change” will start at 9 a.m. May 3 at the Ottawa Hills High School Stadium, 2532 Evergreen Road.
Hoeflinger said he plans to donate some of the money back to participating schools and will also award some money to the winner of his essay contest. The remainder will go to Brian Matters, the organization the Hoeflingers established to raise money to fight underage drinking in honor of their son.
As part of their advocacy work, the couple have published a book “The Night He Died: The Harsh Reality of Teenage Drinking” and appeared on local and national media, including “Katie,” hosted by Katie Couric.
Last June, they raised $40,000 at a golf tournament called Birdies for Brian. Another golf tournament is planned for the fall.
Just recently, they solicited essays from area schools, asking students to write about ways to prevent people from drinking and driving, and currently, they are showing a video during conference calls with a local insurance company.
“Slowly but surely word is getting out. It’s a steady, long process,” Hoeflinger said. “It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be. The hardest part is generating enthusiasm.
“For kids, they still don’t think it’s going to happen to them,” he said. “They have to learn to stand up to say ‘It’s not cool to drink.’ Now that I’ve lost a son that has died it has taken on a new meaning. How many people need to die before you say it’s a real problem? I know the answer to that: One is enough.”
Hoeflinger said he’d like the 5K race to become an annual event, like the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
All preregistered participants receive a T-shirt. Preregistration ends April 28. Mail-in registration must be postmarked by April 21.
A limited number of shirts will be available on race day. Registration opens at 7:30 a.m. May 3 at the Ottawa Hills High School Stadium.
“This race will be a healthy way to bring a greater awareness regarding the topic of teens and alcohol,” the Brian Matters website reads. “We would like to challenge as many students, parents and other adults to become involved in a topic that is so important to our youth’s future. We need to change the future by starting now and help teenagers make it cool not to drink!”
Tags: "Katie, 5K race, A Race for Change, Birdies for Brian, Brian Hoeflinger, Brian Matters, Brian Matters Challenge Run, Cindy Hoeflinger, Dr. Brian Hoeflinger, Dr. Cindy Hoeflinger, Katie Couric, Ottawa Hills High School, Ottawa Hills High School Stadium, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, The Night He Died: The Harsh Reality of Teenage Drinking