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Pam Stucky looks at picture of her late husband, Dean Stucky, with her son Phillip on
Andrew Shurtleff/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 12/9/2012
One method that drains the color from their faces: Participants are told to write the name of a loved one down on what appears to be a festive gift tag in school colors, only to discover that the label in question is a toe tag used to identify a corpse.
The guttural reaction, Stucky said, is the gift. It's also a feeling she knows firsthand.
"If we can just get them to think twice about whose mother, brother, sister or husband they are endangering by driving drunk, we may have helped to save a life," she said.
People connect to their story, but the strength of the presentation comes in the session of workshop activities that follow, she said. The assignments asks students to put themselves in the Stuckys' shoes and write down what their own lives would be like if a parent or guardian were taken from them.
The Stuckys have been working to help save lives since Phillip learned to walk. Some of his earliest memories involve toddling around the court-ordered classes his mother led for drunken drivers in their native Florida. He was 4 the first time someone called him a hero.
"[Telling the story] helps others, but it really helps me too," Phillip Stucky said. "Because of what I've done, I don't see myself as a victim, most days."
The pair has lobbied local and state-level politicians on policy issues in Florida and Virginia, most recently attending a signing in Virginia Beach this summer of legislation requiring convicted impaired drivers to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle.
Their sights are set on legislation requiring all incoming Virginia college freshmen to complete The Gift or a program like it.
"I've probably spoken to 100,000 people over the years," Pam Stucky said. "You never know if you're reaching people, but if I could prevent just one person from going through what we've been through, it's worth it."
More information about The Gift can be found at pleasegivethegift.com.