‘Buckle Up for Brooklyn’ brings seat belt safety
The Buckle Up for Brooklyn Safety Awareness Benefit brought in supporters from all walks of life. The event was hosted at Carlinville Elk’s Lodge 1412 on Saturday, Sept. 20, and those in attendance included family, friends, local and state officials, police officers, and the community.
The message behind the Buckle Up for Brooklyn campaign is to create awareness of the importance of seat belt usage. The message of seat belt safety is fueled by the untimely passing of Carlinville resident Brooklyn Armstrong, who was 16 years old when she was involved in an auto accident in December 2013. Due to not wearing her seat belt, Armstrong was thrown from the vehicle and did not survive. Armstrong’s family, including her mother and step-father, Kristy and Andy Ott; father, Bryan Armstrong; as well as numerous other family and friends have been passionate about bringing seat belt usage to the forefront of the community’s mind, especially concerning children, teens, and young adults.
The evening began with a dinner and numerous items were available for bidding as a silent auction, many of which were donated by local businesses. There were also several items available for purchase to show support for cause including, t-shirts, hoodies, wrist bands, and car decals. Many in attendance wore the Buckle Up For Brooklyn items as well as Carlinville Cavalier colors in honor of Armstrong, as she was incredibly active in her high school and sports teams.
Pastor Tim Rhoadus led a prayer to begin the evening’s presentations. Andy Ott, Armstrong’s step-father, said a few words of thanks regarding all of those who have supported the event and the campaign. Many of Armstrong’s classmates, teammates, and friends from Carlinville High School were present and helped organize fundraising. It was apparent that the amount of time, energy, and work that went into the event was monumental but done with love, affection, and purpose for Armstrong and the campaign’s message.
Illinois State police Master Sergeant Michael Gillock and Macoupin County trooper Rachel Bettis said a few words regarding the importance of seat belt usage and safety. Both spoke about their personal experiences of dealing with fatal auto accidents and how seat belts “give you a better chance” at survival. For perspective, Gillock stated that in the Vietnam War there were more than 58,000 U.S. deaths over the span of approximately 20, years while approximately more than 37,000 die from vehicle crashes every year.
Senator Andy Manar gave a brief statement, in part mentioning that the “state of Illinois ought to be supporting” seat belt and vehicle safety. He encouraged those of the Buckle Up for Brooklyn event to “keep going, you never know who you may impact.” Deputy officer Shawn Kahl also encouraged seat belt safety stating that he wanted to “get all the schools in Macoupin County active in promoting seat belts.”
The evening concluded with Armstrong’s classmate, Kishon Miller, singing and playing a few songs on his guitar while the passion painter, Andy Raines, painted a portrait. One of Miller’s songs was “How to Save a Life” by the band The Fray. During the few minutes of the song, Raines painted a portrait that resembled the face of Jesus, impressing the audience with his amazing talent.
The night was full of support, love, and education of the importance of seat belt safety.
Armstrong’s mother, Kristy Ott, remains motivated in the Buckle Up For Brooklyn campaign and will continue to bring her daughter’s message to the community. A future goal for the campaign is to include the “Buckle Up for Brooklyn” slogan throughout the state and bring it into driver’s education manuals. All funds received at the event and in the future will go toward furthering seat belt safety awareness in honor of Armstrong. Anyone who wants to contribute to the Buckle Up for Brooklyn campaign is encouraged to contact U.S. Bank in Carlinville.
By Kaylan Schardan