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Madison man turns tragedy into life-saving opportunity

Man lost father, mother, brother in drunk driving accident

MADISON, Wis. - Nearly three years ago, the vehicle Jimmy Anderson was riding in was hit by a drunk driver.

Down, but not out, the Madison man fought for his life. Now, he's using a new tool to give other victims the chance to survive what he did.

"It was August 24, 2010, I believe," recalled Anderson. "Literally, the next thing I remember is that loud smack."

Anderson was visiting his family in Patterson, Calif., that year to celebrate his 24th birthday. A drunk driver ran a stop sign at the intersection of East Las Palmas and Elm Avenues and crashed into the Andersons' vehicle. The impact killed his mother, father, and younger brother.

"I remember I was hanging upside down and it felt like I was floating," said Anderson, who survived with a collapsed lung, concussion, and significant blood loss. He also suffered a spinal injury and is paralyzed from the chest down.

"I don't have time to be angry," said Anderson. "This is the life that's been dealt to me and I have to do the best with it that I can."


He shares his story to students and to jailed OWI offenders.

Now he's taking it online. Using the fundraising technique known as crowd-sourcing, Anderson is raising money for his new nonprofit called the Victims of Impaired Driving Project. So far, people have donated about $8,400. Anderson has to raise $50,000 by mid-August or the donors get their money back. The funds would help pay for the unexpected expenses drunk driving victims have such as wheelchairs and funerals.

"It was so difficult, but I was lucky to have friends, my wife's family and my community come together and help," said Anderson. "I don't know if everybody has that and I'm hoping through my organization I can provide that for people."

It's a hefty goal that could help a lot of people, thanks to one person who's sharing his lesson of survival and advice for drunk drivers.

"It's not so much the consequences that would happen to the person who was driving, it's the impact you could have on someone else's life," explained Anderson, who's now 26.

Anderson is married and works as an attorney with the Department of Justice. To visit the crowd-funding site, go here.

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