Accepting Mariah’s Challenge

Posted on May 5, 2011


One of my mantras in life is simply, “have a purpose.” I stole this from a staff training exercise conducted by Dr. Russ Quaglia on his Student Aspirations program we initiated in the Philipsburg schools. Those three little words—twelve measly letters—have so much possibility and power in them. At the Mariah’s Challenge awards banquet, last week, I was reminded of just how powerful three words can be.

The event that sparked Mariah’s Challenge happened while I was in P-Burg, but now that I’m living in Butte, you become initiated in an understanding of how things began. On the evening of October, 28, 2007, three young girls were walking home when an underage driver who had been drinking hit the fourteen-year-olds. All three were severely injured; Mariah was the only one of the trio that died as a result.

Mariah’s father, Leo, spoke at his daughter’s funeral. He issued a challenge to city of Butte. He challenged the community to change the culture of acceptance of underage and drunk driving. This challenge turned into Mariah’s legacy—to Butte, to Montana, America, and her family—Mariah’s Challenge was born. Events, such as what took place to spur this action, should never happen. Period.

Mariah’s Challenge soon turned into an organization offering scholarships to Butte graduating seniors that have not received an MIP (minor in possession of alcohol), to educate teens and parents about the dangers of alcohol abuse, and to foster a culture change in Butte—a city with a long history of tolerance for alcohol abuse from its early days as a mining camp.

Not often are given an opportunity to play a role in something that is larger than you. Mariah’s Challenge has been gaining momentum ever since its inception, businesses “accept Mariah’s Challenge” with financial contributions to the scholarship fund, schools across the state “accept Mariah’s Challenge” by educating their students on the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and people “accept Mariah’s Challenge” by choosing to make healthy decisions in their life. A purpose that touches on emotion and fosters such positivity should spread like wildfire; although it’s a lot of work, Mariah’s Challenge is spreading.

Purpose. Did you catch that?

One of the quotes I chose to use in the video I produced for the organization went something like this: “what happened to Mariah wasn’t his family’s plan, wasn’t your plan, wasn’t my plan, but it was God’s plan. Mariah’s Challenge is now God’s plan for Mariah.” It is hard to even imagine what Leo went, and continues to go through. I’m sure his life’s plan never included this. It never should have, but we can never know our future. Outside of selling insurance to pay bills, Leo’s life has a new purpose that is making the world better. And I can dig that.

So often people drift purposeless through work, school, life… Mariah’s Challenge, and its spreading message, is a reminder that when you “have a purpose” you can do extraordinary things.

Being at that event, seeing the effects of Mariah’s Challenge on people in my community, provides rays of hope. Leo’s words provide proof of hope. I hope the video I put together shares that message. I am grateful to have the ability and opportunity to play a role in such a great evening.

I accept Mariah’s Challenge. Do you?

More information on everything Mariah’s Challenge can be found at

Posted in: Think, Video