The entries were impressive, and our decision was difficult, but we would like to congratulate our winner Opal McElroy.
Opal is a talented college student whose poem, “glass” illuminates the dangers posed by distracted driving. Her poem explores the lens of distraction through perspective and vivid memories. Opal clearly sees the impact of distracted driving on an individual and those around that individual’s decision. We, like Opal, hope everyone considers the high probability of a tragic outcome before doing anything that will take our focus away from the road each time we get behind the wheel. Her tragic message ends with
“your last breath were never ones
that deserved to be memorialized
and the car window that is left shattered
was the only glass that ever mattered”
Here is Opal’s full poem.
In addition to being a talented writer, Opal is a skilled artist, winning Outstanding Artist in both 2D Drawing and Mixed Media in the 2018 Visual Arts Scholastic Event. She has served as School Enhancement Junior Chair and Community Service Senior Chair for the Plano Student Congress. Opal has planned for community events, including a fundraiser for March of Dimes and voter registration. She was one of the two (out of 1400) students chosen to meet with Plano Senior High School’s Superintendent each month to solve Plano’s issues as well as advance future ideas. Opal graduated Magna Cum Laude from Plano Senior High School. She is will study neuroscience at The University of Southern California.
This contest was created to honor Emma “Tita” Lourdes Shaffer, who lost her life in an accident caused by a distracted driver. Tita was a very thoughtful 6th grader with a bright future ahead of her. On April 9, 2016, she and her mother were driving home from dinner when their car was hit head-on by an oncoming vehicle.
The driver of the car that struck Tita and her mother was texting while driving. She was also a mother with her young daughter as a passenger. Her lack of attention to the road caused her to veer from the southbound lane into the northbound lane, resulting in the head-on collision, which resulted in the tragic deaths of both mothers and daughters.
Opal’s words “suddenly a mother’ s/i love you/was her last” remind us of the final moments the women likely shared with their daughters.
The #TextFreeForTita Distracted Driving Scholarship Contest was organized to create public awareness of the increasingly prolific danger of distracted driving. One in five traffic deaths in Texas is caused by a distracted driver despite laws against it.
The contest offers a full-time student entering or attending an accredited university or law school in the US the opportunity to earn $1,000.00 toward university or law school tuition or related educational expenses. To enter the contest, eligible students must complete the application for the spring semester contest by May 31 or by December 31 for the fall semester contest.
Entrants must employ their creativity by designing and sharing the impact of distracted driving and ways to reduce the number of deaths in the state of Texas, resulting from the problem. The entries can be in the form of video or multimedia works, written works (like poems), or photo or graphic creations.
Patterson Law Group wishes to encourage responsible driving habits for citizens of all ages. We are pleased to offer this award as another means of spreading the danger of texting or performing any other action while driving and providing an outstanding student the opportunity to earn assistance toward the cost of higher education.
Deaths due to distracted driving are preventable. Patterson Law Group explores creative ways to educate everyone about the dangers of distracted driving and prompt drivers to remember to put away their phones and anything that might take their attention from the road.
We appreciate the efforts of all of our contest entrants. If you know of a college-bound senior who may be eligible to enter, please direct them to the contest page on our website.
Congratulations again, Opal. We appreciate the thought that went into your poem. It’s a much-needed message.