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Amazing Dad: Doug Herbert
Filed under: Amazing Parents
Doug's Family: Wife: Ginger, married one year this July 4th; Kids: Jon, forever 17, James, forever 12, Jessie, 12
Doug Lives In: Lincolnton, North Carolina.
Why Doug Is Amazing: In January 2008, Doug Herbert suffered unimaginable heartbreak when his two sons were killed in a car accident. Jon had been speeding and lost control of the car in which James was a passenger.
Only days after the tragedy, Doug met with some of Jon's teenage friends to talk about an idea he had -- establishing an organization that would offer teens driving instructions and help them realize the dangers of unsafe and reckless driving. Doug admits that the meetings were therapeutic for everyone involved. Jon's pals very quickly came up with a name, B.R.A.K.E.S., which stands for Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe. To Doug's amazement they had even designed a logo.
There is a grim irony involved because Doug is a national hot rod driver who makes a living driving very fast.
"My son Jon got a speeding ticket and I took away his car and he said, 'Dad I can't believe you're doing that when you drive a race car 300 miles an hour around a racetrack and you're giving me a hard time for going 60.' I had to explain that you're supposed to go fast inside the race track, not on the street," Doug says. "I told him, 'I'm driving a car that's meant to go that fast and has special safety equipment. On the street you have to mind the rules. You have to follow the speed limit.' Like most teens and like I was at 17, you pretty much think you're bullet proof, that you're invincible."
To date more than 2,000 teens in North and South Carolina as well as California have taken the driving-school course, which is a four-hour seminar that teaches teens safe driving techniques, and Doug hopes it will expand nationwide. The website also offers safe driving tips and some sobering statistics on teen driving. To wit, in the first three years of driving, a teen has a 89.2 percent chance of being involved in an accident.
"Honestly before my boys were in that accident I had no idea that 6,000 teens are killed every year in car accidents," he confesses. "I think most people don't know that, but as I go and speak at different places it makes people realize how really big this problem is and how much we can do to help it."
Through B.R.A.K.E.S., which also tries to help parents and siblings of car accident victims, Doug has met many other parents who have also lost children in accidents.
"They've come to help and volunteer, which makes them feel like they're part of something," he says. "A lot of people are helping us because they realize it's a good thing and that we really are making a difference even though we are a small organization. Imagine what we can do as we keep on going."
Doug's Wife Ginger Says: "Few can understand the wrenching and hollow agony Doug silently suffers on a daily basis due to the loss of the boys. Within days of the accident, this incredible man, loving husband and dedicated father started the B.R.A.K.E.S. foundation so that he may stop as soon as possible any other families from experiencing such a tragic loss. Not only is my husband saving the lives of thousands of teens he doesn't even know, he has kept the beautiful spirits of Jon and James alive and their enduring memories will forever remain in our hearts as well as the hearts of all those who participate in the B.R.A.K.E.S.' Teen Pro-Active Driving Schools. He's truly one of the world's greatest dads and I'm so proud he's my husband."
Recognition: Doug was honored in 2009 with the North Carolina Motorsports Industry Award for Safety Innovation for his work with B.R.A.K.E.S. Garth Brooks asked Doug to be the guest speaker at his annual meeting of supporters for his Teammates for Kids Foundation in Nashville.
Doug's Guilty Pleasure: Chocolate peanut butter Haagen-Dazs ice-cream
Doug's Best Advice: "Tell your kids you love them every day. The last time I saw both my boys I told them I loved them and I'm really thankful that was the last thing I was able to tell them. They knew I loved them and that helps me get by every day."
Related: Amazing Dad: Dave Wardle
Want to see who else made the list? Click here for the rest of AOL's 2010 Amazing Dads!
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