Lex. Catholic Senior Wins National MADD Award

For a young woman who doesn’t drink, Renee Brown, president of the Youth Coalition for Alcohol Education, knows an awful lot about alcohol.

This knowledge and her devotion to stopping underage drinking has gained the Lexington Catholic High senior national recognition.

At the national conference of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving in September, Renee was named 2012 MADD Youth Activist of the Year.

The award came as a surprise to Renee.

“I was very honored. I thought it was going to be someone else,” she said.

Lynsey Sugarman was not surprised. She is an official with the Keep It Real-Don’t Drink campaign and works closely with Renee on YCAE.

“She is an extraordinary young woman, an articulate public speaker and a wonderful teen role model and leader,” Sugarman said.

Renee was recently honored as the 2012 Fayette County ASAP Board Member of the Year, selected over adult members.

Renee’s experience with YCAE actually led to a paying job with Alcoholic Beverage Control as an investigative aid.

She helped expose retailers selling cigarettes to underage buyers.

Through the YCAE, which includes teens from seven local public and private high schools, Renee has helped plan and implement programs that educate parents, coaches and her peers.

In the past three years, the group launch-ed a Sticker Shock program that placed stickers on alcohol in liquor stores reminding adults that hosting alcohol parties for teens is illegal.

The teens also developed the Alcopops program that they have presented to schools, parents and community groups more than 30 times.

The eye-opening presentation demonstrates how fruity alcohol drinks are marketed to young people.

Renee also helped coordinate the Breakfast of Champions, a training session for local high school coaches focusing on the effects of alcohol on young athletes.

She was joined in those efforts by Jamie Ritchie (Dunbar), Caroline Baker (Henry Clay) and Nakia Ridgeway (Tates Creek).

Speaking at the event were  Sydney Meaux (Tates Creek), Jon Marra (Tates Creek), Marty Brown (Lexington Catholic), Michael Winkler (Bryan Station, Georgetown College) and JoshNadzam (UK).

What motivates a young woman like Renee to take this kind of stand?

Said Renee: “I saw alcohol as a detriment to my classmates. I want to prevent it at all costs.”