Phi Kappa Psi commences annual Safe Driving Week with candlelight vigil
Safe Driving Week commences with candlelight vigil
SU fraternity aims to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.
Illuminated by the candlelight Monday night on the steps of Hendricks Chapel, dozens of Syracuse University students and community members marked the beginning of Safe Driving Week in an effort to raise awareness about distracted driving.
Organized by SU’s Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, the 7th annual candlelight vigil memorialized the deaths of Hunter Brooks Watson and Vincent (Vinny) Gian Maugeri, who both passed away in tragic distracted driving incidents in 2016.
“Phi Psi will forever benefit from the legacy of these two men and so will many others,” philanthropy co-chair Aidan Cronin said. “Their legacy is here to represent our house and everything we stand for. They are the backbone of our brotherhood and the meaning of our Safe Driving campaigns.”
The annual awareness campaign is supported by the Hunter Brooks Watson Memorial Fund which works to stop preventable deaths by encouraging safe driving. Hunter’s Fund provides grants to young people in the fields of performing arts, music, computer science and entrepreneurship. This year, the campaign goal is to raise $60,000.
Since its inception at SU, Safe Driving Week has grown to become an event hosted by Phi Kappa Psi chapters campuses nationwide. More than 6,000 students have participated in and volunteered for the events.
Safe Driving Week also includes tabling efforts across campus to provide information on distracted driving and to collect pledges from students, faculty and staff to avoid distracted driving. The university’s chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma also helped with this year’s campaign.
Following a moment of silence at Monday’s vigil, Cronin recognized Jerry Watson, the father of the late Hunter Watson, while white candlesticks were lit by attendees.
“When Hunter had dreams he grabbed them,” said Jerry Watson, who was a member of Phi Kappa Psi at Alabama in the 1960s. “In his short life he mastered music — he wrote and recorded dozens of songs, performed at music festivals and recorded music videos.”
“He was full of passion, purpose and imagination,” Watson continued. “He had a sense that he could achieve anything, that life was beautiful and his for the taking.”