Mike played football for Rochester Mayo, my high school in Rochester, Minnesota, and Julius was a strong supporter of the Mayo High School football team.
I went off to college in the fall of 2002, and I received word in October of that year that Mike and Julius had been killed in a car accident in Boulder, Colo. on Oct. 32002. Their vehicle hit a tree.
In an Oct. 5 2002 story, the Rochester-Post Bulletin reported that Evenson died immediately, while Young collapsed soon after the accident and died. Mike and Julius were apparently drinking at a bar earlier that night, and alcohol was suspected in the accident. Both men were members of Mayo's Class of2000.
This has been something of a difficult topic for me to discuss, but I've always wanted to write about it. I knew Mike Evenson and Julius Young, but not well enough. I never spent time with their families, visited their homes, or shared a long conversation with either of them. We were casual friends, acquaintances.
I was the manager of my high school football team. Mike was one of our wide receivers and Julius was one of the team's passionate fans. I feel guilty, in a sense, for not knowing them better than I did. Perhaps writing about his is my way of trying to come to terms with that emotion.
I'm a college junior and even on my "dry" campus, drinking occurs. Despite all of the anti-drunk driving videos I watched during elementary, middle and high school, not to mention the valiant efforts of groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) -- drinking occurs. I'd ask why this is the case, but I already know the answer. The truth is , there are many potential reasons that college students like myself choose to drink.
Many college students engage in drinking, responsibly, as part of a social experience. Others use alcohol as an escape from personal pressures or life's worries. Still others feel a social pressure to drink. With the latter two cases, alcohol use is all too often excessive in nature.
I fully understand, and in fact endorse, responsible alcohol use by those of legal age in a social setting. If you do drink however, please do not drive. These words resound like a chorus because we've all heard them so many times. But in repeating this message, I hope that we will all, myself included, finally take heed of this warning with the seriousness it deserves.
As I reflect on this issue, it is their responsible alcohol use that worries me. It worries me because for every individual who dies, this epidemic continues. We all should take a moment and sincerely consider the consequences of drinking and driving. This column may not change your attitude about driving while intoxicated, but I just wanted you to take a moment and think about it. I just wanted to introduce you to Mike Evenson and Julius Young.
In memory of Mike Evenson and Julius Young
For more information about Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) visit their web site at www.madd.org