After Terri Hoover’s 18-year-old son was killed, she felt like she was living through hell, but instead of sinking into bitter despair, she took action that she hopes will save others. Hoover, who has owned Artistik Edge salon in Lake Highlands for the past 24 years, lost her son Jake in 2005 when he crashed his truck in East Texas. Jake was speeding and not wearing a seatbelt. Five years ago, about what would have been her son’s 20th birthday, Hoover had a dream in which she saw Jake’s face on a billboard. “When a mother loses a child, she has to choose either to get bitter or get busy,” Hoover says, “and I chose to get busy.” Hoover met with friends and community contacts that helped turn her dream into a reality with the Clickit4life foundation. The foundation, which survives through charitable donations, pays for billboards promoting seatbelt safety to be displayed around the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The jarring signage displays a picture of Jake at age 18 with his birth and death date below it. Hoover runs the billboards specifically during the winter holidays and the summer, during school breaks, when more teenagers are driving on the roads. Although there is no way to quantify how many teenagers have started to wear seatbelts in response to the billboards, Hoover believes that a large photo of her son with his death date below it can shake teenagers up into changing their ways. “If I can prevent one mother from living through this hell then it’s worth it,” she says. Last December, the Lake Highlands Exchange Club honored Hoover with the “Unsung Hero” award for her efforts. In response to learning about Hoover’s program through the Exchange Club, Texas State Representative Jason Villalba has invited her to be honored on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives. Hoover says she hopes that clickit4life can partner with the Texas Department of Transportation’s “Click it or ticket” campaign in May to have greater impact. She envisions displaying new billboards that address the broader issue of distracted driving and include pictures of her son’s friends, asking teenagers the question, “Who would you leave behind?”
For more information about the billboard campaign and how to donate, visit the website at www.clickit4life.net.