Nikki’s Foundation-People Against Distracted Driving was incorporated October 10th, 2012. in memory of Nikki Kellenyi, a beloved Washington Township high school senior who died at the age of 18, a VICTIM of a distracted driving auto crash as a backseat passenger in a car driven by her friend, one month before her high school senior prom.
The mission or purpose of People Against Distracted Driving® (PADD) as stated in its Articles of Incorporation, "The prevention of distracted driving through public awareness and education and to aid the families of victims effected by distracted driving."
PADD's® mission can be broken down to four areas.
- Offering education to drivers about the dangers of distracted driving by attending high schools and colleges around the country.
- Supporting the victims and families of victims who have lost loved ones at the hand of a distracted driver through victim advocacy, grief support and financial assistance.
- Partnering with local, state and federal governments to promote the passage of legislation making awareness and education of the deadly consequences of distracted driving a priority along with making it a criminal offense to drive while distracted.
- Donating and installing "Don't Text And Drive" signs and "Don't Drive Distracted" signs on roads, in schools, businesses and billboards in an effort to keep reminding everyone to keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.
HISTORY OF PADD
Since our beginning PADD® has donated hundreds of our "Stay Alive Don't Text And Drive" signs to schools and towns across the United States, Canada and Europe. We have spoke to thousands of young adults and adults in high schools, colleges, town meetings, social events about our efforts and ways to eliminate distracted driving. We continue to speak with news media to keep distracted driving issues on the forefront and in every ones minds. Our charity is the first to offer help, both emotionally and financially to families who have been effected by distracted driving.
PADD® began out of a family stricken with grief. A typical American family of four, in one second became three. Two parents and a daughter now had to learn how to get through each day without a daughter and sister. One day standing over Nikki's grave they realized that a new epidemic has taken over the world, an epidemic that took their family member was taking 17 other family members everyday. Out of their grief came compassion, knowing 17 other families a day were going through their nightmare. A change was needed. The change was that they needed to make people understand that death by distracted driving was not a statistic, it is real lives and real families being crushed in one second. PADD® was founded to help everyone, that is their reason for the name "PEOPLE". Mothers, fathers, daughter, brothers, aunt's and uncle's, Christian's, Jew's, Arab's, Afro-American, Chinese, Spanish, distracted driving does not discriminate, it doesn't care if your beautiful, ugly, skinny or fat. PEOPLE Against Distracted Driving® has quickly become the fastest growing, most searched and most recognized charity aimed to end distracted driving, because we want to save everyone from this epidemic.
PADD IS BLAZING THE TRAIL FOR ALL OTHER FOUNDATIONS TO FOLLOW!
In less then one year PADD® took on a challenge against politicians from New Jersey. Being one of the most populated states, New Jersey has an extremely high amount of crashes caused by distracted driving but no one wanted to take a stand to educate the public and bring distracted driving awareness out of the closet and into every ones minds. PADD® stood toe to toe with politicians who didn't want more signs, who didn't want more money spent on awareness of the epidemic. What PADD® was against in New Jersey was that distracted driving was acceptable, every one was doing it so why fight it. So what they did was bring the story of Nikki Kellenyi's tragic death, a victim of "death by distraction," killed by her very own friend and classmate, to every corner of the state house, to every newspaper, to TV stations, radio stations and internet news organizations. We took cold hard statistics and brought them to life. Nikki Kellenyi began to take on the "face of distracted driving" and changed the mindset of everyone who heard the story. PADD® doesn't just say distracted driving kills, we hold up her picture and describe how Nikki was an innocent human being, not a number. What happened next was politicians, school kids, parents and society started to realize that "Nikki" could be their daughter, sister or friend. Distracted driving is becoming everyone's problem and it does not discriminate. "Nikki's Law" was signed into law in New Jersey in August, 2013, only 16 months after Nikki was killed. Read About Nikki's Law HERE. Our next step is to take this to the federal level so it will be law in every state to educate and bring awareness to the epidemic.
Along with passing new laws, PADD's® goal is to have their "Stay Alive Don't Text And Drive" signs and "Don't Drive Distracted" signs in every school in America and on every road and highway that we travel. These signs are donated by PADD® and they meet the Department of Transportation's standards and the standards of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices. PADD® believes that reminding the traveling public to not text and drive and to not drive distracted needs to be constantly reminded to everyone on the roadways we travel. By donating as many as possible to schools and towns one cannot forget the consequences of distracted driving. Our sign campaign can be compared to the "click it or ticket" campaign of the 80's and 90's which changed the mindset of drivers about seat belts. We hope one day when you get in the car, the phone doesn't sit on your thigh, it gets put away along with all the other distractions. We have donated and installed hundreds of these signs in a little over a year, we hope that turns into millions soon.
GOALS AND STRATEGIES
Our Goals, Strategies and Capacity to Make the Lives of American Families Safer.
The Nikki Kellenyi Foundation (PADD) was founded by Mike and Gina Kellenyi. Their daughter Nikki Kellenyi was killed in her senior year by her own friend, a distracted driver. People Against Distracted Driving® (PADD) is the nation’s largest growing nonprofit working to protect families from distracted driving. With the help of those who want a safer future, PADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Distracted Driving® will end this danger on America’s roads. And as one of the largest growing victim services organizations in the U.S., PADD also supports distracted driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving anyone who needs us 24 hours a day at 1-234-738-DTAD (3823). Learn more at www.padd.org. Our goal is to lower deaths and injury caused by distracted driving. We want to tell everyone's story whose lives have been changed by this preventable death. Another real son, daughter, sister, mom or dad died while you read this. With your commitment to drive responsible maybe next time you visit our site, no one will die while you read this!
PADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Distracted Driving focuses on three important steps we all can take today to stop distracted driving tomorrow:
- Support our Policemen and Troopers. Support high-visibility law enforcement to catch distracted drivers and discourage others from driving distracted.
- Pay Attention from the turn of the key. Make sure the radio is set, passengers understand you need your full attention to driving, put the phone away and wear your seatbelt.
- Secure the future. Support the development of technology to either shut down certain aspects of the phone, apps that reward drivers for not using their phones and apps that track usage for reporting purposes
Our success is measured in the number of lives saved. Distracted driving fatalities need to declined, which means that, together, we can saved thousands of lives with your help in launching our campaign. Since PADD® was created traffic deaths by distracted driving are lower (NHTSA). But there are still far too many people killed in distracted driving crashes each year – 3,300 killed in 2011 and over 300,000 injured. In fact, one in five in this country will be involved in a distracted driving crash in their lifetime. Our goal is zero tolerance, no one should be killed because of a poor choice behind the wheel.
Nicole Lauren Kellenyi, 18, of Washington Twp., passed away suddenly on April 15 from injuries sustained in a car accident. Beloved daughter of Michael and Gina (nee Capodanno). Loving sister of Kristen. Loving granddaughter of Gilda Capodanno and Nancy Kellenyi. Dear niece of Donna and Ernie DeMarchis, Connie and Steven Mills, Joe Kellenyi, Steve and Nancy Kellenyi, Dan Kellenyi and Karen and John Swope. She is also survived by her loving cousins. She was predeceased by her paternal Grandfather, Joseph Kellenyi, and her maternal Grandfather, Vincent Capodanno. Nicole, or known to her family and friends as Nikki, was loved by not just her family, but her many friends as well. A senior at Washington Township High School, Nikki's name frequently appeared on the "Principal's List Roster" for earning all A's, and she was named Student of the Month many times throughout her high school career. Nikki was a part of the DECA program and was just recently named to the National Honor Society for Business, an extremely selective program. As accomplished as Nikki was, you would never know of her awards because she was so humble. Sadly, on the afternoon of the day of her accident, Nikki committed to attending Rider University to major in Accounting. A natural-born athlete, Nikki played basketball for Washington Twp. Parks & Recreation. She brought home many trophies and was awarded MVP at the 2007 Championship Game. As athletic as she was on the court, she still showed grace. Nikki danced privately and also for the Washington Twp. Dance Team. She was strong at gymnastics and was also a cheerleader for the Washington Twp. High School. Nikki and her family had a love for horses and owned many over the years. Nikki and her sister, Kristen, were both members of the Gloucester County 4-H Equestrian program and competed at the county and state levels of competition. She and her horse, Maggie, earned many ribbons, including the County Grand Champion and Reserve Champion many times. Her highest achievement was earning the New Jersey State Grand Championship for Western Pleasure. Nikki's 4-H club was not only about riding horses, as it also supported many charitable organizations with volunteer causes. In 2006, her club, "Saddle Stars," was awarded the Presidential Volunteer Service Award from President George Bush for service and support to our veterans. In addition to her studies and school activities, Nikki worked two part-time jobs at Bruster's and Virtua Health & Wellness Center. She loved days on the beach and being around her friends. She had just returned home from her high school senior class trip to Walt Disney World, Florida and was looking forward to Senior Prom. She will be laid to rest in her recently purchased black, crystal-studded prom gown. Nikki loved dogs. Her family drove to Virginia to rescue a Coonhound they named Anna and recently brought home another new coonhound pup, Rocco, into their family. Her relationship with her sister, Kristen, is an eternal bond that not even death could break. Both young ladies were close in age and shared not only the title of sisters, but best friends as well. Her parents, Mike and Gina, were her loudest cheerleaders, and supported her every endeavor. They have lived their lives for both Nikki and Kristen and have always been willing to do anything to ensure their success and happiness. Nikki was simply a beautiful person inside and out. Nikki's kindness and compassion for others was felt by all who knew her. Her parents nurtured this outstanding young lady that we were so fortunate to have in our lives. She will be sadly missed by all. Relatives and friends are invited to attend her viewing Thursday 5:30 – 9:00 pm and Friday 10:30 – 11:30 am at SS. Peter & Paul RC Church, 362 Ganttown Road, Washington Twp. Mass of Christian Burial 12:00 pm. Interment All Saints Cemetery, Franklin Twp.