Mariah was a vivacious, outgoing 18-year-old when she lost her life in a texting while driving accident. Determined not to let her death be in vain, Mariah’s mother, Merry, has been on mission to save the lives of other teens – both as a spokesperson for AT&T’s “It Can Wait” anti-texting campaign and as a supporter of eye, organ and tissue donation.
Mariah was always known for her gentle and caring spirit. Said Merry, “She had a heart that was full of love. The feature that her friends missed the most was her hug that usually included a twirl and/or a pat on the fanny for encouragement. She was quick-witted and always had a funny story to share.”
Throughout high school, Mariah worked on the school newspaper and yearbook and was a member of the Junior Police Academy. Her plan was to attend Georgia State University and major in psychology. Unfortunately, Mariah’s dreams were cut short in 2009 when she was involved in an auto accident the day before her high school graduation. Eight days later when she lost her life, her parents had to make the difficult decision whether or not to donate her organs and tissue. Because of their strong faith and Mariah’s caring personality, the family agreed to donation.
For Merry , the choice was obvious because, “Mariah was very generous by nature. In her own words from her social networking site – ‘I love to help everyone. If I have it in my power to do something for you, I never hesitate.’ It was this spirit that led us to continue her legacy of giving through organ donation.”
Mariah’s organs were donated through Midwest Transplant Network while Saving Sight provided her corneas to a recipient in Missouri who was able to regain her sight and her independence.
“It Can Wait”
Because Mariah’s accident was caused by texting and driving, Merry made it her mission to spread awareness of its dangers to save teens and parents from the same heartache. Shortly after Mariah’s death, Merry shared her story on her local news, capturing the attention of AT&T which was developing a texting public awareness campaign.
In 2010, Merry became one of the spokespeople for AT&T’s “It Can Wait” anti-texting-while-driving campaign, and Mariah’s story was featured in its “The Last Text” documentary. Merry traveled to Dallas on a satellite media tour to 18 different cities, was featured on CNN and Good Morning America, and was interviewed by USA Today.
In addition to her work with AT&T, Merry and her family are setting up a foundation in Mariah’s honor to inform teens about the dangers of distraction, both from a texting while driving aspect and from a spiritual aspect. Their “Where U At?” ministry, based on the last text Mariah ever received, will encourage teens to look at where they stand in relationship with God.
By sharing Mariah’s story to protect the lives of teens around the world, Merry is allowing Mariah to fulfill one of her most important dreams. “Mariah wanted to become a psychology teacher and work with inner-city kids. It’s funny how things work out. Even in her death she is still accomplishing her goal as a teacher.”