It hasn’t been an easy few years for Nikki Lavoie-Zieba and her family. On June 24, 2009, her son Ricky Zieba, a Concordia Stingers football player, fell asleep at the wheel en route to the family cottage at 4 a.m. He passed away due to injuries sustained in the accident.
Since then, Lavoie-Zieba has dedicated herself to spreading the importance of remaining alert while driving. Instead of dwelling in grief, she has chosen to help prevent others from suffering as her family has. “If we can make a difference, that’s worth all the tears,” Lavoie-Zieba said.
The Ziebas are holding the third annual car wash fundraiser inPointe Clairein honour of "Don’t Drive Tired", a campaign that aims to raise awareness of the gravity of driving without the proper amount of sleep. The current Concordia Stingers will be washing cars at the event.
Proceeds from the car wash will fund new equipment for a Stingers-only exercise facility at Concordia. The equipment will be dedicated in Ricky Zieba’s honour.
“We want to give something in Ricky’s memory, specifically to the football team, that would be visible and used all the time,” Lavoie-Zieba said.
Lavoie-Zieba also works in conjunction withMount SinaiHospitalin Côte St. Luc, where she has helped found a cause called Project Zieba.Mount Sinaihas a prominent sleep apnea clinic. A common side effect of sleep apnea is fatigue throughout the day, which can lead to dangerous driving.
Lavoie-Zieba and the head of the sleep apnea clinic, Dr. Marc Baltzan, hope to begin giving presentations to students at CEGEPs. Baltzan plans to give background on the dangers of sleep apnea, and Lavoie-Zieba would tell her son’s story.
“It’s all about getting something out there to spread the message,” Lavoie-Zieba said. “It’s one thing to read about something, it’s another to feel the emotion.”
Liam Mahoney was one of Ricky Zieba’s best friends. They played football together atVanierCollege, and both went on to play for the Concordia Stingers.
Zieba’s death rocked Mahoney’s world. “You never expect one of your friends to die when you're 22,” Mahoney said. “To have something so awful happen to someone like that makes you stop in your tracks.”
Mahoney said he thinks it’s important for people to realize the risks of drowsy driving. “It's something that’s definitely worth spreading the word about, and making especially young people realize,” Mahoney said.
Mahoney went on acknowledge the enormous efforts the Ziebas have made to inform others about the dangers of driving tired. Besides the car wash, the family has been selling number “9” keychains, Zieba’s number on the Stingers, as a reminder to always be alert behind the wheel.
This year’s car wash will be held on Saturday, August 4 at Complexe Pointe Claire. The Concordia Stingers will be washing cars, and the Ziebas, along with friends and family, will have t-shirts and keychains on sale to help support Project Zieba and the “Don’t Drive Tired” cause. HITS 94.7 FM will be broadcasting from the site for the duration of the event.