September 26th, 2018
TEEN DRIVERS EXPERIENCE TRAUMATIC CRASH
SCENE ON STAGE
PARTY at the PAC Raises Awareness of Distracted, Drunk Driving
She critically injured a sanitation worker when she hit him with her car on a bright snow-covered street in January 2013. “I hadn’t taken the time to properly clean the snow and ice off my windows, and I was completely blinded by the sun. I wasn’t texting and I wasn’t intoxicated,” said Brooke Wedeward, 27, of Madison. Both Wedeward and the man she hit, Mark Friend, were seriously injured in the accident, and Friend lost a leg. “An accident like that affects so many lives, not to mention the emotional turmoil and terrible thoughts I had after unintentionally hurting someone, and hurting him so severely.”
High school sophomores from throughout the region will hear from Wedeward and Friend as part of the 21st annual PARTY at the PAC in downtown Appleton on October 3 and 4. More than 5,800 students from 43 high schools will attend one of four performances. The two-day event has reached 67,000 high school students over the past 20 years.
PARTY stands for Prevent Alcohol and Risk-related Trauma in Youth. It is an intense and emotional reality-based education program sponsored by the ThedaCare Family of Foundations and presented by the Trauma Center at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah where young people learn about the dangers of driving while distracted or intoxicated. PARTY at the PAC includes a dramatization with student actors who portray teenagers out for a good time, only to have their night end in tragedy. Real-life local firefighters, paramedics, police officers, doctors, nurses, and judges appear throughout the show hosted by ThedaCare and the Fox Cities PAC, along with numerous community sponsors.
Members of the news media are invited to attend PARTY at the PAC at 9 a.m. on Wed., Oct. 3 and for a pre-interview with Brooke Wedeward. If planning to attend, members of the media must RSVP to Michelle Tanem at 920.585.6385 or firstname.lastname@example.org before Wednesday.
Ray Georgen, MD, a trauma surgeon at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah, has served as the emcee for the event since its inception in 1998. “It starts out feeling like a field trip when the kids arrive, but the PARTY at the PAC changes people,” he said. “Most people are different when they walk out the doors. It’s impactful. It has traction with teenagers.”
Wedeword and Friend reconnected three years after the accident. Last year, they presented for the first time at PARTY at the PAC. The reenactments on stage are hard for Wedeword to watch and hear because the sights and sirens bring her back to that terrible day. However, her objective now is to make an impression on the young people in the audience, many of them new drivers. “Even straight-A students who look down at their phones when they’re driving, anyone’s life can be changed forever” when they take risks behind the wheel, she said.
This year’s PARTY at the PAC also includes four parent-guardian programs on Oct. 3 and 4 and a coordinating presentation called “Parents are the Key,” about proven tools for reducing teen driving injuries and deaths. Georgen said parent engagement reinforces the message of PARTY at the PAC. “It leads to great dinner conversations because no one wants to go to the ICU or the morgue to ID a family member. Many teens believe they are indestructible, but you don’t get a do-over on these things,” he said.
In addition to Dr. Georgen, former Neenah Police Chief Kevin Wilkinson will co-emcee. Other presenters and participants include David Schultz, MD, FACS; Karl A. Greene, MD, PhD, FACS, FAANS; Judge Gregory Gill; Darcy Schehr; Brooke Wedeward; Catalpa Health; Corrina De Groot; Blake Ebben; Fox Cities Performing Arts Center & Volunteers; Fox Crossing Fire Department; Mark Friend; Gold Cross Ambulance Services; Goss Auto Body; Amy Houlihan; Jeff Lendrum Photography; John’s Towing of Neenah; Neenah Police Department; NorthCoast Productions; Outagamie County Health Department; Jeffery Roehrig; ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton Emergency Department; ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah Departments: Emergency, Respiratory Therapy, Safety and Security, and Trauma Services; ThedaStar Air Medical; Wilson’s Towing, Winnebago County Health Department; and Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office.
High schools participating in the half-day event include: Amherst High School, Appleton Central, Appleton East High School, Appleton North High School, Appleton West High School, Berlin High School, Bonduel High School, Brillion High School, Chilton High School, Clintonville High School, Fox Valley Lutheran High School, Freedom High School, Hilbert High School, Horace Mann High School, 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, Oakfield High School, Omro High School, Roncalli High School, St. Mary Catholic High School, St. Mary's Springs Academy, Shawano High School, Seymour High School, Shiocton High School, Stockbridge High School, Suring High School, Tri-County High School, Valders High School, Valley Home Schoolers, Valley New School, Wild Rose High School, Winneconne High School, Wisconsin Academy, and Xavier High School.
The Exclusive Presenting Sponsor for PARTY at the PAC is Bergstrom Automotive.
Graduate Sponsors are BMO Harris Bank; and 2018 Lamers Driving Experience sponsored by Commercial Horizons, Inc., Lamers Motor Racing, and Faith Technologies, Inc. The Senior Sponsor is Thrivent Financial. Junior Sponsors are The Association of Hospital Anesthesiologists; AZCO, Inc.; Menasha Corporation Foundation; and the SECURA Insurance Companies Charitable Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region. Sophomore Sponsors are AAA–The Auto Club Group; Community First Credit Union; the John J. and Ethel D. Keller Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region; and Surgical Associates of Neenah, S.C. Freshman Sponsors are American Digital Cartography, Inc.; Faith Technologies, Inc.; Gold Cross Ambulance Services; Total MSP; The Bright Idea Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region; Fox Valley Surgical Associates; Winnebago County Crime Stoppers; and Kaldas Center for Fertility, Surgery and Pregnancy, S.C. Contributing Sponsors are East Wisconsin Savings Bank; Neuroscience Group of NE Wisconsin; Premier Community Bank; and the Ronald & Ruthellyn Musil Family Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region. In-Kind Sponsors are Festival Foods; Gibson Iron & Metal; Goss Auto Body; Jeff Lendrum Photography; and Wilson’s Towing.
For more than 100 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 6,700 healthcare professionals throughout the regions. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 31 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.