People matter and stories matter -- just ask the family of Missouri Trooper Kevin Floyd who was senselessly killed 10 years ago today.
I never had the honor to meet Kevin but I feel like I knew him through his family. Kevin was ripped from his loved ones by an inattentive truck driver who bent down to pick up a piece of paper. That mistake took Trooper Floyd's life.
Just three weeks earlier, another trooper was killed when a woman struck Corporal Jay Sampietro as he directed traffic on I-44. The investigation showed the woman had been on the phone at the time.
That year was an incredibly sad year for law enforcement in Missouri. I covered both trooper deaths. During that short time span, I also covered the death of an emergency responder, also hit and killed by an inattentive driver.
It was a very weird time for us and we found ourselves asking, "When is it going to stop?"
In a journalistic way, these incidents created change. I helped launch a PSA campaign that reminded people to slow down and move over for emergency workers. That campaign caught the attention of the highway patrol and the National Association of Broadcasters. It got people talking. It honored the lives of the fallen.
But in a more human way, it changed me. I became a great admirer and friend of Cheryl Floyd, the widow who hung her head high to stay strong for her two children. Cheryl fought through tears to be a champion of the Slow Down, Move Over campaign and always made time for my phone calls.
She is with me today. She remains in the back of my mind when I see someone on the side of the road. In fact, on Sunday, I thought of her as I saw a family poorly parked on the side of the interstate as we drove back from Wisconsin Dells. We slowed down and moved over to the next lane.
And then yesterday I received an email from Telena, Kevin's then 16-year-old daughter. She's now married to a trooper and has children of her own! I hope she doesn't mind me sharing a few words. They really touched my heart.
She wrote, "I'm writing this to tell you thank you for every thing you did. I was 16 at the time of his death and 17 when I stood with you in front of a camera scared to death to speak. But you made me comfortable enough to get over the nerves. You were a godsend in that horrible time. My mom (Cheryl) always talked very fondly of you. You helped her keep her sanity during the case! Like my dad, you have a thankless job and I just wanted to reach out and let you know how thankful I was that you were a part of our lives at that moment in time."
You could have knocked me over with a feather. My husband and I were so moved by the Floyds during our time in Missouri and we're just feeling humbled that we could make a difference.
I hope reading this story also reminds you to take your time on the road, slow down, move over and pay attention. Nothing is as important as your life -- you can honor the Floyd family by taking some very small actions.