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COLUMBIA - Life changed forever for Jerry Mitchell nine years ago when a drunk driver hit him while he was riding his motorcyle. Since then, Mitchell's been a volunteer for the Boone County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

He attended MADD's local chapter workshop for the national initative "The Power of Parents" this morning. The program encourages parents to talk openly about the dangers of drunk driving with their children, especially teenagers.

While Mitchell said he never worried about his own children driving while intoxicated, he thinks parents being more open about the topic can't hurt. "I never mind coming to meetings to share my story. If it makes a difference for one person, it's worth it," Mitchell said.

MADD's national initiative, "Power of Parents," began April 1 and will end April 21.

MADD's state executive director Meghan Carter spoke about the importance of raising awareness within families about impaired driving.

"Most parents just never think their own child could make a bad decision like that," Carter said. "But really, we need to have these hard discussions with our kids so we can stop drunk driving before it starts."

Mitchell said being taught at a young age could mean the difference.

"Maybe my accident never would have happened if the man who hit me had grown up knowing about how dangerous drunk driving really is." Mitchell said.

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