(HAUPPAUGE, NY June 10, 2014)—Today, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone congratulated Sarah Haiken for her efforts to combat underage drinking and drunk driving at the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge.
Sarah was 11 when Karen Naclerio-Negrin of Smithtown, a family friend, was killed by a drunk driver. Since then, as a way of remembering Naclerio-Negrin, Sarah has worked tirelessly with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in Huntington Station. MADD is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking.
“I applaud the efforts of Sarah as they pertain to advocating on behalf of MADD,” County Executive Steve Bellone said. “I thank her for her leadership on the regional and the national level and know that she serves as a role model for her peers and her elders. I can only hope that my girls grow up to possess similar leadership qualities.”
In 2010, when Sarah was 13, she became the youngest person to attend the MADD Inaugural National Teen Influencer Summit in Dallas. She was one of five chosen from teens nominated from around the country and they helped to form the Power of Youth program.
Every two years, MADD accepts applications to create a new panel. Sarah was the only person to return in 2012, and again MADD asked her to apply for next year.
Recently the Half Hollow Hills East student helped create a video to encourage more participation in MADD’s Annual Walk Like MADD 5K. The video has received national attention, and will be distributed or re-created in different states.
In 2010, Long Island Press honored Sarah with the Woman of Achievement Award and again was the youngest recipient. Since then, she has been honored with many awards and legislative proclamations for her volunteer work with the MADD organization, including a Kohl’s Store scholarship. In 2012, Sarah created a program called “Join The MADDness” focused on the dangers of underage drinking or getting into a car with someone who is drunk. The program has been held at Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station and at a few fall festivals in 2013. Sarah arranged to have local law enforcement participation and recruited more than 50 youth volunteers to staff the events.
She continues to sit on the MADD Teen Influencer National Board, New York State MADD Advisory Board, and this year was asked to join the New York State Governor’s Board for Teen Safe Driving.
Richard Mallow, New York State executive director at Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said, “Sarah’s not only the youngest advocate and leader with MADD New York State but the way she goes about implementing and initiating her programs is with a quiet assuredness and excellent leadership. New York State MADD is lucky to have an advocate like Sarah.”
Her mother, Cheryl Haiken, who attended with the event with her husband, Jeff, said, “Sarah is not boastful in any way. She is truly an advocate and would much rather others be in the limelight. She’s committed to getting the job done.”
The video can be seen on “You Tube” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3xsfm9lH9k
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