Parents Julie and Lowell Garner received a call in the summer of 2007 that changed their lives forever. Learning that their son Hunter (aged 16) was involved in a car accident, they made the hard decision to take him off of life support the next day, after he suffered serious injuries. However, they turned their tragedy into hope, and created Project Yellow Light: a program aimed to increasing awareness around the issue of distracted driving. In an effort to honor Hunter and save lives, the project asks youth annually to create videos on the dangers around distracted driving; in turn they receive a shot at earning college scholarship rewards. The campaign slogan for Project Yellow Light is simple: “Make a video. Win a scholarship. Save a life.”
Project Yellow Light holds two campaigns yearly, one aimed at college students, and one for high school kids. Winning videos are given the honor of being turned into public service announcements (PSAs) and then distributed to approximately 1,600 television stations across the country. Each video is mandated to be either 25 or 55 seconds. Rewards for tops spots include: a $5,000 scholarship for first place, second place receives a $2,000 scholarship, and third place winner gets $1,000 towards schooling.
Corporate sponsors are trickling on board. The Ad Council is one, who helps turn winning videos into PSAs for T.V.; and Mazda has also joined Project Yellow Light to help with the competition’s logistics and to find people to judge entries. Mazda Road to Indy drivers has also helped out the program recently, with Ben Albano (teen racer) donating $4,600 to the project through a high school karting event. U-Haul also has participated by providing $2,500 to the winners towards moving expenses for before or after college. Other sponsors include: the National Organizations for Youth Safety and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
With close to 600 entries, this year’s contest for Project Yellow Light provided some stiff competition. However, when all was said and done, South Haven, Minnesota’s Marlowe Lexvold took the top spot within the high school division with his animated sledding penguin video entitled, “No One Should Text While Driving”. Alternatively, the college division of the contest saw two brothers from Louisville, Nebraska win top spot (Sam and Wrenn Senser), with a video of a dear driving, trying to avoid teens (preoccupied with their mobile devices) who had stopped in the middle of the road.
To view all the videos, and receive information on how to enter next year’s competition, or on how to donate, visit www.projectyellow.com.