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September 29, 2017

Area Teens See Hear Consequences of Risky Behavior Behind the Wheel

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5,700 High School Students Attending P.A.R.T.Y. at the P.A.C.

Mark Friend knows he has just a few minutes to make a lasting impact on the 5,700 high school students attending the upcoming ThedaCare P.A.R.T.Y. (Prevent Alcohol and Risk Related Trauma in Youth) at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.

ldquo;If I can save just one life, then everything I have been through will have been worth it,” said Friend, who was standing behind his sanitation truck in January 2013 when he was struck by a driver who only scraped a small patch of frost from her window counting on her defroster to clear the rest of it.

“The driver didn’t take that five minutes to finish scraping her window. It is better to take five minutes to do something right and be late than just rush and think ‘that won’t happen to me,’” said Friend, who lost his left leg in the accident and has undergone more than 30 surgeries since the accident. I want students to realize the consequences of their actions if they don’t make wise choices.”

P.A.R.T.Y. at the P.A.C. is a reality-based education program for area high school students put on by the Trauma Center at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah and sponsored by ThedaCare Family of Foundations. Students from 39 area high schools are scheduled to attend performances on Wed., Oct. 4, and Thurs., Oct. 5.

P.A.R.T.Y. shows high schools the consequences of making poor choices when behind the wheel, said Ray Georgen, MD, trauma medical director at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah. He said it is important teens see what can happen when they make poor decisions, whether it is driving while intoxicated or texting and driving.

“What we show them is different than anything else they have seen. They hear at school and at home about making good decisions, but through P.A.R.T.Y. at the P.A.C, we take them as close as possible to an actual situation,” he said. “Hearing someone tell you live about his or her experience is powerful.”

Dr. Georgen, who serves as the event’s emcee with Neenah Police Chief Kevin Wilkinson, has participated in every P.A.R.T.Y. at the P.A.C. since ThedaCare launched it in 1998. By the time this year’s event is over, the program will have reached more than 60,000 area teens. He said connecting with high school students is vital since teens and young adults aged 15 to 24 have the greatest incidence of trauma injury and death.

“Everyone thinks ‘it can’t happen to me,’ but it can,” Dr. Georgen said. “While the stories we share at P.A.R.T.Y. change every year – when we started out there was a big focus on wearing seat belts and texting while driving did not even exist – the message remains the same: teens need to make good choices when they get behind the wheel.”

Dr. Georgen said P.A.R.T.Y. at the P.A.C. empowers young people to make informed, safe choices by shedding light on the dangers of risk-taking behaviors, their life-altering outcomes, and the importance of personal responsibility.

A Canadian hospital developed P.A.R.T.Y. in 1986 to educate teens about the perils of dangerous, risk-taking behaviors and the tragic consequences that can result from them. Dangerous behaviors now addressed in the program include drinking and driving, not wearing a seatbelt and texting while driving.

“For the teens, who will be experiencing the program, we hope that it’s a wakeup call for them to recognize what a serious responsibility driving is,” said Nick Jarmusz, director of public affairs for AAA Wisconsin. “And for parents, we hope it serves as a conversation starter for a much longer discussion about safe driving.”

High schools participating in the half-day event include Amherst High School; Appleton East High School; Appleton North High School; Appleton West High School; Berlin High School; Bonduel High School; Brillion High School; Clintonville High School; Fox Valley Lutheran High School; Freedom High School; Hilbert High School; Horace Mann High School (North Fond du Lac); Hortonville High School; Kaukauna High School; Kiel High School; Kimberly High School; Little Chute High School; Lourdes Academy; Manawa High School; Menasha High School; Neenah High School; New Holstein High School; New London High School; Omro High School; Roncalli High School (Manitowoc); Seymour High School; Shawano Community High School; Shiocton High School; St. Mary High School; St. Mary's Springs Academy; Stockbridge High School; Tri-County High School; Valders High School; Valley Home Schoolers; Valley New School; Weyauwega High School; Wild Rose High School; Winneconne High School; and Xavier High School

In addition to Dr. Georgen, Wilkinson and Friend, other presenters include David Schultz, MD, FACS; Karl A. Greene, MD, PhD, FACS, FAANS; Judge Gregory Gill; Darcy Schehr; Pakou Xiong; Brooke Wedeward; Kaitlyn Vegter; ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton Emergency Department; Catalpa Health; Calumet County Health Department; City of Neenah Police Department; Corrina De Groot; Fox Cities Performing Arts Center & Volunteers; Gibson Iron Metal & Auto Salvage; Gold Cross Ambulance Services; Amy Houlihan; Jeff Lendrum Photography; John’s Towing of Neenah; NorthCoast Productions; Oshkosh Police Department; Outagamie County Health Department; Jeffery Roehrig; ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah’s Emergency, Respiratory Therapy, Safety and Security, and Trauma Services Departments; ThedaStar Air Medical; Village of Fox Crossing Fire Department; Village of Fox Crossing Police Department; Winnebago County Health Department; and Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office.

Funding for this year’s P.A.R.T.Y. at the P.A.C. comes from: Presenting Sponsor – AAA –The Auto Club Group; Graduate Sponsor -BMO Harris Bank; Senior Sponsor – Thrivent Financial; Junior Sponsors – 2017 Lamers Racing Driving Experience sponsored by Commercial Horizons Inc., Lamers Motor Racing and Faith Technologies Inc.; AZCO Inc.; Bergstrom Automotive; The Boldt Company; and SECURA Insurance Companies; Sophomore Sponsors — Community First Credit Union, Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region; Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group; John J. & Ethel D. Keller Fund within Community Fund within the Fox Valley Region; and Surgical Associates of Neenah SC; Freshman Sponsors — Cellcom; Fox Valley Surgical Associates; Gold Cross Ambulance Service; Kaldas Center for Fertility, Surgery & Pregnancy S.C.; Menasha Corporation Foundation; Pieper Electric Inc. and Systems Technologies and SII Investments Inc.; Contributing Sponsors — East Wisconsin Savings Bank; LSC Communications; Morton LTC; Ronald and Ruthellyn Musil Family Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region; Premier Community Bank; Prospera Foundation Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region; Shopko Foundation and Winnebago County Wide Crime Stoppers.

For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 6,800 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 32 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.