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Coming of age is that time in each of our lives when we begin to see the possibilities. The world opens up in ways that matures our vision, gives us a sense of responsibility and gratitude. Connor Thomson had just started college and loved being at that phase in his life where he could eat all the pizza he wanted, yet engage in adult conversations with his parents about the responsibility to make life better for others. Connor’s optimism was contagious. There was so much he could do, so much he could become.
But it all ended one night when Connor was distracted while driving in a Colorado canyon. A young man, who emanated so much light, suddenly went dark.
Connor’s father, David, took it particularly hard. A father sees more than his own traits in his son; he sees greater possibilities than he achieved. Taking that hope away left David feeling adrift. But Connor’s optimism was one of those traits passed on to him by his father. So David got to work.
First, he established the Honor Connor Scholarship Fund to reward students who served in the community. Next, he went to work creating a research-based curriculum that educates University of Colorado Boulder students and their families about the dangers of texting and driving. It includes a very simple three-part pledge: to not text or use social media while driving, speak out if riding with a driver who is distracted and encourage friends and family to drive phone-free.
David now collaborates with lecturers at various colleges and high schools, ensuring young minds understand how statistically at risk they are when they text and drive. He’s become a passionate advocate for preparing young people to drive safely and not impulsively reach for their phones while they’re at the wheel. “I just don’t want other parents to go through what I did when I lost Connor,” says David. “It’s just so preventable.”
While every constructive endeavor reminds David of the loss he suffered, he is encouraged knowing that more young people with so much to offer the world will be around to do good. “I get to be a part of what Connor would have done,” says David. “And that is a small consolation.”
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