Amy Martin still tears up when she thinks about the day that changed her life a whole decade ago.
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It was a Monday afternoon, and Amy was drunk behind the wheel of her SUV. In the backseat, her 1-year-old daughter, Madeline, was strapped into her car seat. A bottle of vodka sat in the center console. When blue and red lights flashed in her rearview, Amy reluctantly pulled over.
Trooper Kristie Sue Hathaway of the Minnesota State Patrol noticed Amy’s car weaving all over the road. Although she was new to the force, she knew a drunk driver when she saw one. Kristie Sue’s own parents had struggled with alcohol addiction, causing her to be raised by her aunt and uncle.
Her suspicions were confirmed as soon as she saw the liquor bottle and Amy’s bloodshot, glassy eyes. She was arrested, and her parents were called to pick up Madeline.
Amy’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit. As Kristie Sue booked her, she issued a personal warning to the young mom.
“I remember saying right before you got booked in, ‘Please don’t do this to your daughter.'” she said. “‘She needs a mom. I know because my mom left when I was 10.'”
She shared a bit of her personal story to Amy in hopes that she would turn her life around after what turned out to be her second DUI arrest. Amy promised the cop she would quit drinking for good this time, but Kristie Sue was skeptical.
“Quite frankly, she had said it and I was like, ‘Okay, well…'” the trooper said. “I didn’t think that I’d hear from her.”
But she did hear from her. One year after that awful day, Amy surprised Kristie Sue at work with a very special gift. In her hand, she held a 1-year sobriety token from her 12-step program.
“While I’d been trying to get sober for quite a long time and struggling with that, I wanted her to be able to see that and kind of give that to her,” said Amy, adding, “If this wouldn’t have happened, there is no question in my mind, I would not be here today. She saved my life.”
Kristie Sue says that day changed her life as well. For one thing, it renewed her faith in humanity. For another, it reminded her why she got into law enforcement in the first place – to help people like Amy.
From that day forward, the two of them were friends. Over the past 10 years they’ve attended each other’s weddings and supported each other at road races, and Kristie Sue has visited Madeline’s school to talk about being a police officer. Most importantly, though, Amy brings the trooper her new sobriety medallion every single year.
When Amy gives her a new one, Kristie Sue returns the previous year’s medallion to her. The trooper then keeps Amy’s newest medallion in the pocket of her uniform, right next to her heart.
Madeline is now 12 years old and couldn’t be prouder of her mother.
“I’m glad she made the choice to do what she did and make a promise that she would do it and actually accomplish it,” Madeline said.
People are brought into our lives for a reason. It seems that Amy was meant to be on that highway that day. There’s no doubt this kind police officer was meant to be the one to stop her to change her path forever.
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