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Diane's Letter - The Inspiration Behind the Business

Dear Judge Talevi,
You may not recognize my name and that's probably a good thing. I've not stood before you in a court room but have sat in front of you as a sponge with an open mind, heart and ears. You may remember me as the emotional, red faced woman trying to conceal obvious heartfelt tears after listening to you present to the Roanoke County's Citizen's Police Academy Class in the spring of 2016.

I admire you for all you do to help those with alcohol and addiction problems within your therapeutic docket. So much that I can honestly credit you for giving me a renewed sense of purpose and direction in life and career aspirations.

My father is a recovering alcoholic. We've been through more ups and downs with him than I can keep count. He's a happy and pleasant man. Much like Robin Williams. Seeing him struggle with the wrath of addiction since childhood made me want a career in emergency services. I went to school for a paramedic initially and worked approximately 10 years as a non-emergency medical attendant, ideally hoping to one day work as a paramedic/fire woman.

My dreams were cut short due to an on the job knee injury. I found the civilian police academy class online and hoped that maybe it were a good fit for me. I learned a lot, enjoyed my experience. I have a new found respect for all that the County Police, Sheriff's office and State Police do to protect us, but realized as enthralled as I was, this again was not my place.

Hearing you speak about your docket pulled at every piece of my heart bringing forth a flood of emotions I've suppressed over the years. When I was 8 years old my mother was t-boned by a drunk driver. She required physio and was trying to deal with my father's alcohol addiction. She sent me to live with family in Newfoundland for 2 years while she got him back on his feet and dealt with her injuries.

2 years later I was reconnected with my parents. Life would cycle based on the throws of my father's addiction, sometimes leaving us at the mercy of the local food bank. I grew up trying to be strong for my father, helping him whenever I could.

In one instance, at the age of 10, I had to pull him out of the lake after he slipped off a boulder and was being battered against it from the waves while intoxicated, then drove his transport truck and trailer, down a 6 hour stretch of highway, to get us home at his request. Other times I've had to help him into and out of shelters getting him set up with clothing basics and toiletries.

At one point in my early 20's, I'd even helped him out of crack house. He was down on his luck and everyone else had given up on him and turned their backs on him. He found a "place to stay" from a guy he met but not known at the local bar who rented him a room. I got a call from my dad that he was in rough shape and needed a few thing. Ginger ale, Dramamine and a blanket. I'll never forget knocking on the door of that average (from the outside) looking house. Asking for my father by name and describing his appearance, in my ambulance uniform being questioned. Those inside, peaking through curtains, some running, as locks and deadbolts went up the door, fearing I was a cop. Holding up my stethoscope trying to explain myself, bracing for a bullet, not knowing what to expect. Heard them finally unlocking the multiple locks on the door and slowly opened the door. I wasn't sure what was going on or why my dad was staying there by that point. This was a new low even for him.

As I began walking into a run-down house stepping over comatose like bodies strewn across the floor on mattresses and disheveled furniture. Found him upstairs in a bedroom curled into a ball wearing only underwear and t-shirt stretched over his legs trying to keep warm with no blanket, on an old dirty mattress. He had no clothing or personal items going through withdrawal's and detoxing on his own, scared to book into rehab. The same man that sober was a workaholic, worked as a chef, in a bank and was a proud truck driver. The same man who wore cute cardigan's and pressed dress shirt and pants to work daily that took pride in his work and appearance was now helpless to throws of his addiction trying to get away from it.

Some of the best sleeps I've had were knowing that he'd been arrested for something and was at least in a safe warm place sober. But it took one officer who finally took it upon herself to call me and truly ask what was needed. What were they missing and how they could get him help? It was the one person who after a lifetime of him being in and out of trouble, started a ripple effect. She took it upon herself and reached out like no others had. It was not without a failed attempt but lead him on the path to understanding his own accountability.

Now grown and married with 3 children of my own, I'm proud of his sobriety and what he's gone through to maintain it. All thanks to people in the system who genuinely care just as you do. As his only child my hands are tied living in another country. Unfortunately he is unable to visit us due to his record but enjoys keeping up with us on Facebook and yearly visits back to Canada. His honesty about his struggles, willingness to be open about it has shaped me and set me on the right path in life and I will always be grateful for telling me the truth. Honesty, truth and perseverance have become an integral part of who I am and I honorably have him to thank for that.

The reason I'm going into this information (if you're still following along with me by now) is to let you know that you've changed me. Seeing the hope and conviction you had in your heart for these struggling individuals in society reaches so much further than just at their feet. It goes beyond that to their family, children, and grand kids. I want to thank you for caring the way you do. For seeing a window of opportunity to create change and going for it.

I've been reinvigorated with a sense of purpose since listening to you speak. Seeing your passion motivated me so much that I started my own business. It's a designated driver service that helps drive people home in their own vehicles. I know at 10 years old I was in a dangerous situation driving my father's transport truck at his request, trying to "help" him. I sincerely hope that is not a common occurrence looking back but can't help to think what if?

As of July Big Lick Boomerang was a registered and licensed business here in the county. Thankful I have always maintained my sense of accountability to help others, I've become a small business owner expanding to other services helping provide transportation solutions for families and businesses and doing my best to re-invest in the community. Thank you for sharing your passion. It truly has gone a long way in helping this isolated stay at home mom find a purpose and direction in life. I love my children and would do anything for them but realized without balance you lose yourself and sense of purpose. Sometimes losing sight of the things you can manage to do to make a difference, no matter how little, instead of focusing on the things you can't.

I'm hoping to help reduce the number of drinking and driving related incidents here in the Roanoke Valley by offering this service and donating $1 from each ride home to a local charity that helps people dealing with addiction take back control of their lives and get help.

I just thought you might want to know that behind everything, you are the proverbial kick that got the ball into motion and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I had the idea to start this 6 years ago. Being a mom of 3 with no family to help made it easy to find every excuse not to. After hearing you speak, I came home to kids who were excited to see me. As they hugged me, I looked down seeing 3 pairs of big blue eyes looking back at me. It was that exact moment I realized I had every reason to get started.

Diane Rumbolt