When Jacy Good announced she was going to put her hair in a ponytail, the audience in the Phillips Stevens Chapel fell completely silent.
Ms. Good reached up with her right arm, the only one she can use now, swept her hair up with one hand and secured it. It was a simple task—one most people could do without thinking.
Yet for Ms. Good, who was left critically injured after a 2008 car crash, the act of putting her hair in a ponytail is a reminder not only of the accident, and the distracted driver who caused it, but of a hospital stay and the months of rehabilitation that followed.
It’s a reminder of the loss of her parents, both killed during the crash, and of the crusade to change the laws on cell phone use that she and her husband have pursued ever since.
“It’s not just today that my body doesn’t work,” she told the Williston Northampton School audience. “It’s not just today that my parents are gone. It’s every day.”
In a deeply personal and emotional talk, Ms. Good and her husband, Steve Johnson, told the assembled students and faculty about the day of the crash: their lives before, the anguishing details of the moment, and the devastating aftermath.
“It was impossible to believe,” Mr. Johnson said of receiving a phone call from the hospital about the accident. “Things like this didn’t happen in my life.”
The crash occurred the afternoon of Ms. Good’s college graduation, when an 18-year-old, who was talking on his cell phone, drove through a red light and into the path of an oncoming semi-trailer truck. The 18-wheeler swerved to avoid him and instead hit the Good family’s vehicle head on.
“Phones are incredible. Driving is incredible,” Ms. Good said. “They just don’t belong together.”
Created in 2012, the annual Wright Speaker Series invites speakers to campus to address issues of social and emotional health, particularly when those issues involve learning from a challenging experience. Previous presenters have included Dr. Sameer Hinduja, an expert in cyber-bullying and Internet safety and awareness, and Rachel Simmons, author of The Curse of the Good Girl and Odd Girl Out.
On February 27, Ms. Good and Mr. Johnson appealed to the Williston students to work with them to combat accidents caused by distracted drivers. Noting that it was no longer socially acceptable to drink and drive, they asked the students to help them create a similar stigma against cell phone use in cars.
“I came to ask you guys to help me play this hand of cards,” Ms. Good said. “My big hope for you guys is that you start a new ripple. That nothing on your phone is worth a life.”