Alexa's Hugs Encourages Seat Belt Use after Devastating Loss

Alexa and Tad at a Ball Game

Father, Friends Cope with Loss by Giving Hugs

It's the bad news every parent loses sleep thinking about – the knock on the door at 2 o'clock in the morning, the police officer asking strange questions, and in the blink of an eye, nothing will ever be the same again. Tad Johnson of Colorado knows the experience better than he ever hoped after losing his daughter Alexa to a car accident. The worst part is, she wasn't wearing her seatbelt, and her death might have been prevented.

Racked with grief, her father Tad went through her Facebook profile just to see her face again when he noticed a grim trend developing. Every time he saw a picture of his daughter and friends in a car, none were wearing seatbelts. Tad confessed that this made him furious, but an idea struck him once he composed himself. He updated the profile with thanks for condolences and his only request for those reading: Wear your seatbelts.

The positive feedback brought about a group of friends sharing pictures of them buckled up every time they got in a car. Tad and his wife, Jona, wanted to continue to spread the word – they formed the non-profit "Alexa's Hugs" to promote seat belt use. Tad and Alexa's friend Kaley would travel to schools and talk to students about their experience. Only months after Alexa's accident, Kaley was in a massive collision of her own. Without her seatbelt, police report she would have easily been ejected.

Kaley tells reporters that she never leaves a school without asking the students "who is sitting with their best friend right now?" She always follows with this: "I would give anything to sit next to my best friend."

Alexa's Hugs now spreads their message across the country with their signature "hugs," little squares that attach to seat belts made to remind friends, family, and anyone else to buckle up.

Source: "Dad Pushes Seat Belts to Honor Dead Daughter." ABC News. June 6, 2014.