Today I went to see my friend Ashley’s father, Bill Streiter, speak to high school seniors about the loss of his children. Ashley and Billy were killed by a drunk driver April 5, 2003.
Bill spoke today about losing his kids but also about how important forgiveness is, about making smart choices, the impact of making bad choices, and being a good human by doing small things to make the world a better place.
He tells their story in a way that makes you realize how precious life is and how it can all change in the blink of an eye.
He is amazing. Bill didn’t preach to these kids but instead used such a sweet approach of telling his story by conveying the importance of making good decisions, not as a random stranger but as a father from the same town they all grew up in. Bill lost his two children, his only children and can somehow tell this story without flinching by knowing (praying) he’s making an impact on these young minds. Hopefully he is implanting a seed that will help them grow into smart decision making adults who are also decent humans.
Ashley was younger than me by two years. Her best friend Caitlin and one of my best friends, Lauren are cousins. So Caitlin and Ashley were kind of like our little sidekicks. We loved/love them like little sisters. They even got fake ids as us when we turned 21 (pre 9/11 when it was a breeze to get one lol). I was lucky to call her my friend and I miss her a lot. It makes me so happy to see how much her best friends support each other year after year and I love how they name their children in honor of Ashley and Billy. It’s beautiful how deep their friendship runs.
Today, watching the high school seniors view the tribute video and see Ashley in her Hanover Park cheerleading uniform and lining up with all of her friends in their prom dresses and seeing photos of Billy hanging out with his crew of friends, I hope helped them relate to this story as they go to their prom this week and start their college careers. I pray they realized how far making a bad decision can reach. 16 years after Ashley And Billy have been gone, I sat today in the same auditorium I sat in myself as a high school senior. I listened to my sweet friend’s dad tell his story with two of Ashley’s best friends, one of their adorable daughters, and one of my best friends all next to me and we sobbed remembering our friend and her brother as if it happened yesterday. If that isn’t a huge ripple of impact I don’t know what is.