Not a person in the audience moved as they listened to a young man’s story of survival and resiliency after experiencing a drunk-driving accident.
Jared Estes was in the car with his wife and friends heading home from a hockey game several years ago, when they were struck by a car from behind going about 150 miles per hour. Jared survived with serious injuries, including 50 percent of his body burned. His wife died at the scene of the accident. The man who hit them was a drunk driver.
December is recognized as National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. The Army Substance and Abuse Program hosted a National 3D Prevention Month presentation Dec. 12 at Barlow Theater with Estes as the guest speaker.
The resiliency he has shown connects with people on two levels, said Chris Bowman, prevention coordinator, ASAP, adding that Estes relates to people who may have gone through a similar situation and others who may make high-risk or poor choices.
Estes has been a guest speaker before at Fort Riley, and he does it all on a volunteer basis, Bowman said.
Since the accident, Estes has undergone about 50 surgeries to aid in his recovery. He tells his story as a way to help others see the reality of what drunk driving can do and to be an encouragement to those who are going through tragedies of their own.
“Struggle is universal, and we’re all in the same boat, and we all have that loss and pain and heartache. If we just help each other through it, then it makes all the difference,” he said.
The resiliency of people is amazing, Estes said.
“The experience that I’ve had in these last few years has opened my eyes more than I can even imagine,” he said.
Robert Wray, 101st Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, seemed appreciative to be in the audience.
“It was very informative,” Wray said. “It allowed me to see further what (survivors) deal with on a daily basis, rather than just hearing it in the news or reading it through a Power Point (presentation).”
Three things, Estes said, helped him get through the hard times of recovery and the pain of losing his young wife – friends, Family and his faith.
“(Paige and I) got to talking about the things that were important, and the three big things that seemed to be the theme of our whole conversation that were important to us were our friends, and our Family, and our faith, and without those three things, I really wouldn’t be here today,” Estes said. “I try to put those things in front of everything that I do going forward, and it’s really helped me to make better decisions and to have purpose behind every move that I make, and without those three things, I wouldn’t be here today at all.”
To honor his wife’s memory, and to help in the recovery process of others, the Paige Estes Memorial Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, has been set up to raise funds for other organizations. Some of these include: S.A.D.D., Via Christi Burn Center, Children’s Miracle Network, DUI Victim Center, outpatient rehabilitation, to name a few.
For more information, visit http://1divpost.com/adminn/www.360wichita.com/CommunityAwareness/ThePaigeEstesMemorialFoundation.html.
By Calun Reece
1st Inf. Div. Post
Calun Reece | POST
Spc. Robert Wray, 101st BSB, 1st ABCT, 1st Inf. Div., left, talks with Jared Estes, guest speaker, right, Dec. 12 after the National 3D Prevention Month presentation at Barlow Theater. December is recognized as National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month.