Grieving Dad Pays Teens Not to Drink | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Grieving Dad Pays Teens Not to Drink

The father of a drunk driving victim offers scholarships to teens who pledge not to drink underage.


Will the pledge help teens stay safe?

By May Wilkerson


| Share

Since losing his 14-year-old daughter Mariah in a drunk driving accident five years ago, Leo McCarthy has taken an unusual step to protect other Montana teens: paying them to stay safe. At his daughter's memorial service, he promised her peers: "If you stick with me for four years, don't use alcohol, don't use illicit drugs but give back to your community, work with your parents and talk to your parents, I'll be there with a bunch of other people to give you money." He's kept his word by setting up a scholarship fund called "Mariah's Challenge." To be eligible, teens must sign a pledge to not drink until they're 21, and never to get in a car with a drunk driver. "I wanted to give them encouragement and to tell them can be better and always be greater in the situation," says McCarthy. So far, over 140 high-school grads have received $1,000 scholarships from private donations after signing up. About 8,000 teens in the community have accepted the challenge—as well as an increasing number of adults, who've taken the pledge as a show of support. Drinking and driving is a huge problem in Montana; the state regularly ranks in the top five per capita for drunk-driving deaths. "Montana finally has had enough," says the state's attorney general Steve Bullock. "We're addressing [the issue] both through law enforcement, through legislation and through awareness. One of the great things about Mariah's Challenge is changing people's behavior and the positive awareness of it."

<a href="" title="Is paying teens not to drink an idea that can work?">Is paying teens not to drink an idea that can work?</a>

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
Sober Living
Normies React to the 12 Steps

"I think admitting to having a problem in general is the right first step, but to admit powerlessness is unhealthy. .. I think admitting powerlessness is more harmful because it doesn't help. Admitting that you want and need help is more useful after admittance."

The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 


This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv