LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — It’s been 20 years since six-year-old Yarely died in a drunk driving accident. Her mother has been using the pain of her loss to fuel change ever since.
“Sometimes it’s harder than others,” said Ana Luna.
She says July 29, 2002, is a day that will stick with her forever.
"I asked God why, why, why, why did this happen,” said Luna. "After a couple of weeks the officer knocked on my door and they told me it was a drunk driver.”
That devastating discovery only made her feel worse. She almost let that anger consume her, but a good friend convinced her to share what happened and to use her story to make a change.
“She told me if you do it, it's gonna be hard but if you do it you will reach more people,” said Luna.
First, she shared her story on the radio through a station geared toward the Hispanic community. Luna sought out Moms Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and she noticed there wasn’t anything or anyone sharing the message in the Hispanic community.
In 2004 she created Angels in Action, using different methods like sports to fundraise for a yearly campaign against drunk driving.
“They don't have much in Spanish and I was thinking, you know, our community, our Spanish community, need to realize it’s very dangerous drinking,” said Luna.
Every year for the whole month of July, she and her team work to create ads and host events to spread the message of not drinking and driving. Community members join volleyball, soccer, and basketball teams to support the cause.
"They understand and they just have fun and then go home,” said Luna. “And maybe, just maybe somebody that's gonna drink and drive they may not do it anymore. Who knows.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 42,000 Hispanics were killed in traffic accidents in 2004. That year they estimate 42% were as a result of alcohol-related car accidents.
More than 5,000 Hispanics were seriously injured in traffic accidents that year with 49% of those injuries occurring in alcohol-related car accidents.
"We started with the Spanish community, but we believe we are just one community, and drinking and driving is an issue of any color, any race, any language,” said Luna.
In 2020, the NHTSA reported about 30% of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. involved drunk drivers.
Lune hopes the annual campaign will cause people to stop and think.
“It can happen to anyone, no matter who you are,” said Luna.