Julie Garner, devastated as any mother would be, wanted to do something to stymie the epidemic of distracted-driving incidents while also keeping the treasured memories and celebrated traits of Hunter alive.
But Julie wasn’t sure what that something would be until she and her family attended a vigil held by hundreds of Hunter Garner’s high school classmates. It was organized in a matter of hours after the 2007 wreck that took the life of Hunter and his friend, who was behind the wheel.
Project Yellow Light came to fruition in the weeks that followed.
“All these teens got up in front of this large group of people and started telling stories about Hunter,” Julie recalled. “Some of them were poignant; some were funny; some were sad; and some stories probably never should have been shared in a public forum. That’s 16-year-old boys. But what a gift for me, my husband and my daughter to hear things about our son and the impact he had on all these people.
“It was right then that I knew I had to protect every single one of those kids. We didn’t want anyone else to die needlessly from a car crash. I knew they had it in them to be great storytellers. Their ability to communicate and motivate each other through their stories was amazing. This was the spark that inspired us to create our project.
“The other thing that I knew Hunter would want is for this competition to be available to any student, regardless of their scholastic or academic ability, because he embraced kids from all walks of life.”
U-Haul International Inc. is pleased to announce its new partnership with Project Yellow Light, a scholarship competition devoted to educating young people on the dangers of distracted driving.
Project Yellow Light and the Hunter Garner Scholarship issue $16,000 annually to high school and college students whose video submissions most effectively promote the perils of texting behind the wheel and the need for safe driving among their peers.
U-Haul, the Phoenix-based industry leader in do-it-yourself moving and self-storage, will make a financial donation that covers the current cost of the scholarship prizes and have a presence on the contest judging panel as part of the partnership.
In addition, U-Haul will gladly provide in-kind moving expenses to both the high school and college winners toward their next moves.
“Our tireless commitment to keeping our customers, our equipment and our roads safe make Project Yellow Light a great match for our organization,” U-Haul Executive Vice President Stuart Shoen said. “Our hope is to form a lasting partnership that will continue to advance this life-saving message, particularly to our young people.”
Video submissions are accepted each year until April 1. Current juniors and seniors are eligible for the high school scholarships. Undergraduates are eligible for the college scholarship. In each category, first place receives $5,000; second place receives $2,000; and third place receives $1,000.
The Ad Council will edit the first-place videos into Public Service Advertisements and distribute them to 1,600 TV stations nationwide.
Videos must be 25 seconds or 55 seconds in length. Once uploaded to YouTube, videos may be submitted through http://www.projectyellowlight.com (find official rules, information on distracted driving and examples of winning videos here). For a wide selection of past winners, visit www.youtube.com/user/projectyellowlight.
“This is fantastic,” Julie said of U-Haul Company’s partnership. “I can’t express how excited I am about all the new opportunities this partnership presents to get the word out.”
Garner, of Richmond, VA, is in the midst of her eighth year spearheading Project Yellow Light and the Hunter Garner Scholarship. She is a guest blogger for MovingInsider.com and wrote about Hunter’s tragic passing in this post last year: http://movinginsider.com.
“U-Haul continues to be a corporate leader in spreading awareness on distracted driving and implementing clear initiatives – internally and externally – that guard against this,” Shoen said. “No text or call is important enough to take your eyes off the road.”
About Project Yellow Light
Project Yellow Light is a film competition designed to give high school and college students a voice and a role in reversing the number of car crashes in the U.S. This non-profit scholarship was created by Julie, Lowell and Alexandra Garner in memory of their son/brother, Hunter who died tragically in a car crash in 2007. Project Yellow Light proudly partners with the Ad Council, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Mazda Motorsports, the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) and U-Haul.