On October 16, 1994, young Heather Metzger's life changed completely. That was the day her father, high on booze and drugs, plowed his motorcycle into a mini-van and died of his injuries. The accident was devastating to his family--but not surprising. For years his addictions had been out of control.

Seventeen-year-old Heather Metzger decided that day to dedicate her own life to helping people understand the realities of substance abuse.

She studied everything she could find about alcoholism. She signed on with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. She created a presentation called "Drug-Free Me" and gave it in elementary schools. She got local tuxedo-rental stores to insert sheets of drunk-driving statistics into the pockets of tuxedos that teenage boys were wearing to their proms. She spent her own money to print a "Drug-Free Me" cartoon booklet. Metzger was a full-fledged activist.

Over the next year, she developed a reputation for being a "goody-goody" and was ostracized by many of her peers because of her relentless campaign. Metzger went on to the University of Maryland, where she studied to become a speech and language therapist. At Maryland, Metzger was resident adviser to 38 freshmen and sophomores, and pushed the students in her dorm to register as voters.

She now lobbies legislators about strengthening drunk-driving laws. She designed a Web site about drunk driving. She's the Maryland State Chairperson to the 2000 National Youth Summit. She serves on countless committees, constantly gives speeches, and has been honored by city, county, state and national groups.

Metzger now focuses her work on high school students, saying that though early prevention is vital, "It's important to get to them when it's going on." High schoolers are a tough audience, and Metzger gets their attention not with statistics and preaching but with a personal, emotional story. She shows them photos of a horrifying auto crash and then tells them, "This man is my father."

If you want to help speak out against drunk driving, or want more information, click here to go to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

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