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Just don't do it

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Drunk driver seriously injures friend and fellow runner

By Stevie Lowery

I was planning on writing about underage drinking after attending last week's town forum on the subject, but my mind is overcome with concern for a good friend, sorority sister and fellow runner who is laying in a hospital bed after being hit by a drunk driver Saturday evening.

I can't stop thinking about her.

You see, this friend of mine, she's one of the most amazing people I've ever met.

We attended Murray State University together, and were both in the same sorority. Since graduating, we've stayed in touch with the help of Facebook and running into each other at the occasional road race.

She doesn't know it, but she's my inspiration when it comes to running.

She's ran at least three marathons, including the New York City Marathon. She has recently been training for her first triathlon, and she's been one of my biggest cheerleaders since I began running several years ago. I'm not sure she even knows how much her words of encouragement have meant to me, especially during this year's Kentucky Derby miniMarathon. At mile 10, she ran up alongside me. While I felt like I was about to collapse, she was smiling, and full of energy. Noticing the look of pure agony on my face, she asked if I was OK. Somehow I managed to mumble a few words, and she rooted me on with encouraging words, gave me a big smile and sped away, finishing the race several minutes faster than me. I saw her after I crossed the finish line and she continued to shower me with support.

"Now, I just need to convince you to run a marathon with me," she said.

I laughed as we stood together among thousands of other runners, wearing our mini marathon medals and celebrating.

But, just as running is an unpredictable sport, so is life.

It's hard to imagine that just a week ago my friend, Sarah, ran a half marathon but today she's fighting for her life after a senseless act by a complete stranger.

A drunk driver hit the vehicle she, her brother and two of her friends were in head-on. The drunk driver ran from the scene, but I've been told he was caught and is in jail. Meanwhile, she's in the intensive care unit. She was seriously injured during the crash.

Since hearing the news, my emotions have ranged from complete shock, to blood boiling anger to utter sadness for my wonderful friend.

It enrages me that someone who was too careless to get a designated driver has turned my friend's life, and the life of her family, upside down.

It's senseless. It shouldn't happen.

My friend should be out training for her triathlon. Now, I just pray that she survives and is able to run again.

I've promised her that when she recovers I will train and run a marathon with her. And I will keep that promise.

She's so strong and is in great physical condition, which I hope is helping her body as it tries to heal.

And while I know that she has the will and fight to survive, I'm so scared for her. Her life has been permanently altered because of the senseless act of another... a complete stranger. It's so unfair.

But, what infuriates me the most about all of this is that it was completely preventable. That drunk driver should not have been behind the wheel. That person is not only stupid, but selfish.

I've known plenty of people who drink and drive and somehow they have convinced themselves that they can do it, that it's OK. But, it's not OK. What has happened to my friend is not OK. Nothing about this is OK.

I pray my friend makes me keep my promise of running a marathon with her. It's something I've always been afraid of doing, to be honest, but my fear of running 26.2 miles pales in comparison to my fear of her not surviving or ever running again.

Stay strong, Sarah Beyer, you have many more marathons ahead of you. I want to join you for at least one.