Your Stories Are Our Stories, Too. Here's Why:

Our goal is to save lives by sharing the "Always Wear Your Seatbelt" message with everyone we come in contact with. We don't always know who has heard our message, whose lives have been saved, or the results of our efforts. But sometimes, we do. We are so grateful to the people who tell us their stories and let us share them with the world. Read on to learn about those in our community who have taken "Always Wear Your Seatbelt" to heart.

Siobhan Elkahly

Lorisse Garcia, Siobhan Elkahly, Marlina Johnson, Taylor Gura, and Wendy Grant met to celebrate life after Siobhan and her friends were in a terrifying car accident, and their lives were protected by their seatbelts.

Siobhan Elkahly

We believe that every day holds the possibility for a miracle.

On May 18, 2016, a miracle was waiting for Siobhan Elkahly and her friends, who were dining at a Tampa restaurant called The Getaway to celebrate Siobhan’s 17th birthday. As the friends finished their lunch, their server explained that someone had paid their bill and left them a letter.

What Siobhan, who goes by Shay, and her friends didn’t know is that May 18th is also Laura Grant’s birthday, and on that day, the Always Wear Your Seatbelt Foundation had asked everyone in their community to commit a “random act of kindness” in Laura's memory. 

Marlina Vega Johnson, a cousin to AWYS co-founder Lorisse Garcia, was at the Getaway that day, and decided that her act of kindness would be paying for lunch for the young ladies at a table nearby, and leaving them a flier telling them Laura and Eddie’s story and reminding them to always wear their seatbelts.

“I got goosebumps as I read the letter. I don’t think I had any thoughts other than I have to find this woman. I want to meet her, I want to thank her, and I want to hug her and tell her how sorry I was for her loss,” says Shay. As she read, Shay realized she shared a birthday with Laura.

As the girls got in the car to leave the restaurant, they put on their seatbelts. “That day when the four of us got into the car, when I clicked my seatbelt in, it felt so much more important than any other day; so much more special,” says Shay.

On their way to the Tampa Premium Outlets, they were driving northbound on I-275 when they were struck by another vehicle. “The car spun and hit the median wall twice. There’s not a lot I remember after we were about to hit the wall the first time … I believe I blacked out ... After the car finally stopped spinning, and I regained consciousness, all I could hear was a loud ringing sound in my ears.”

All the passengers in the car were wearing seatbelts, and an accident that could have ended one or more of their lives instead left them with minor injuries and bright futures.

“Thinking back now, even though I’ve never met Laura, she will always stay very close to my heart, as will Eddie. It’s crazy but I feel like they are my guardian angels, not just on the day of the accident but I feel like they are always with me, always watching over me,” says Shay.

do you have a story to share?

If the Always Wear Your Seatbelt Foundation has impacted your life, we'd like people to know. Nothing motivates others to wear their seatbelts like hearing a compelling story.