People Magazine called her the “Conscience of a Nation.”

Candace Lightner’s world was changed forever when her 13-year-old daughter, Cari, fell victim to a hit-and-run drunk driving incident on May 3, 1980. The driver continued home, blacking out at the wheel– he was not a first-time offender. Years earlier, Candace’s mother and her daughter Serena had been injured in a crash caused by an impaired driver.

Just four days after the death of her daughter, Candace started putting together Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), with the goal of fighting drugged driving, preventing underage drinking, and supporting victims. She dedicated her entire life to MADD, she used some of her savings and the insurance money from her daughter’s death to quit her job and dedicate herself to advocating for stricter laws against drunk driving. In just a few years, a woman with no advocacy experience and no political education successfully saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

Candace testified and lobbied before Congress, joining other mothers who had also been victims. Candace testified at statehouses and committee hearings which rapidly evolved into a leading voice in the passage of over 700 bills, including the trailblazing legislation that raised the drinking age from 18 to 21.

Between 1980 and 1985, MADD developed into an international organization with over 400 chapters and two million members. In 2014, Candace founded We Save Lives, an international non-profit coalition with over 60 partners to address highway safety issues. She continued her mission to reduce deaths and injuries on the highways through informative campaigns and video productions, to raise awareness on the consequences of impaired driving.

Candace Lightner is a recipient of the 1983 Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for Outstanding Service Benefitting Local Communities, a Jefferson Award for Public Service, and is now an author, speaker, and teacher for change.