April 24 (Louisville, KY) – The HERO Campaign is in the spotlight as the presenting sponsor for this years Waterfront Jam. The following is a transcript of Rachel Platt’s interview with HERO Campaign founder Bill Elliott.
RACHEL: Well it is party time in the Ville as we count down to Derby, but the family of John R. Elliott wants you be aware of the dangers of drinking and driving. Their son, killed by a drunken driver as he was travelling home from Annapolis, Maryland, to New Jersey for his mother’s birthday, fifteen years ago. The Elliott family in Louisville as part of the HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers, the presenting sponsor of the Derby Waterfront Jam concert series. And joining me right now, our privilege certainly, Bill Elliott, John’s father. And we’re so sorry for your loss.
BILL: Well thank you. It’s good to be here.
RACHEL: And out of his death was born the HERO Campaign. You all started this as a family.
BILL: We did. John was named the HERO of the Year, his senior year at the Naval Academy for his service to his fellow midshipman as a Human Education Resource Officer. We thought what better name to call this campaign, which really is a designated driver campaign. John would have lived – he would be here today – and the person that killed him would be here today if a friend had just driven his drunk friend home. But he didn’t. He’d been arrested for DUI, the friend came up, picked him up and put him back behind the wheel. So that’s why being a designated driver is so important to us.
RACHEL: So you are going around, you’re getting people to sign up to be designated drivers, more specifically local locations like bars and restaurants to give that designated driver free soft drinks for the evening, those kinds of things?
BILL: Yes. We are working with the state division of highway safety, Bill Bell and his folks and the State Police and they reach out to bars and taverns for us and they give them the HERO material and they sign up online. And so we’ve got over two-hundred bars and taverns who are willing to serve free soft drinks if you’re a designated driver. And we’re going to be at the Waterfront Jam, all weekend and all week long.
RACHEL: So we will see you there.
BILL: Oh absolutely. And we’re going to have a hat toss like they had at the Naval academy on the graduation day with HERO hats Friday night.
RACHEL: And tell me, you said when this started, how many states are you in now? Because you say it just keeps spreading.
BILL: It started at our kitchen table, it’s now in seven starts from Boston to Louisville. You’re the western outpost. And a wonderful state.
RACHEL: You said you’ve been here for NASCAR, is this your first time hooking up with Kentucky Derby Festival and these kind of events?
BILL: Yes! And we’re looking forward to it so much. Thank you to Kroger for sponsoring the hat toss and we’re going to have some ride assistance from TARC, Miller Light, Uber and the scooter service in town. So people can stop by our tent and be part of the 100,000 HERO Campaign to be a designated driver and Pledge to be a HERO.
RACHEL: You have some different things here we’re going to hold up. So Be a HERO. When you see this tent if you’re down at the concert series.
BILL: You’ll get a magnet or you’ll get a sticker to put on your car. We’ve got a million of these so far on cars up in the northeast and now we want to have this be something that’s a household name in Kentucky.
RACHEL: HERO Campaign. And your son, I’m sure, would be so proud of your family’s efforts.
BILL: Well thank you.
RACHEL: Thank you so much. Delight to meet you. Really appreciate it and the good work being done. We want to let you know, if you would like to see a list of bars and restaurants locally participating in the HERO program, we have linked you up at WLHS 11 dot com and don’t forget to look for that tent at the concert series if you would like to be a HERO and be that designated driver.