Sunday, Oct. 11th, is Lacey Day at Holy Name of Jesus Church, the Fishtown parish where Lacey Gallagher was baptized as an infant and, 18 years later, mourned at her funeral Mass.
Lacey, an honor student and stand-out soccer player at Little Flower High School, was killed in a prom-night car wreck in April 2007 that also injured the six other young people she was traveling with. She left behind legions of heartbroken friends and family who dearly want her short life to continue making an impact on the world.
So they're holding their annual "Lacey Day" fundraiser, to fill the coffers of The Lacey Fund, a scholarship program organized in her name that, since her death, has provided $60,000 in tuition help to Philadelphia students attending Catholic schools.
It's a wonderful cause, as is the mission Lacey's family has embraced since: the passage of teen-driving restrictions that Lacey's parents, Frank and Denise Gallagher, believe might have saved their daughter's life had they been law the night she died.
Some of the restrictions are contained in PA House Bill 67, which passed in the House and is now in the transportation committee for consideration. But it's not a great bill. HB67 contains not just the teen-driving restrictions (which, if the law passes, will be referred to as "Lacey's Law"), but calls for tougher penalties for all drivers (not just teens) whose distracted driving is determined to have been caused by cell-phone use or other behaviors that pull our focus elsewhere.
If the bill's disparate components were uncoupled, each might have a better chance of passing on their own merits. As it is, the bill might not go the distance. Cell-phone use while driving is still a hot-button issue, whereas the studies supporting restricted teen driving are rock-solid. We can't wait for more Lacey Gallaghers to succumb on the roads before we acknoweldge, with laws, what is now taken as common knowledge: Driving restrictions aren't about curtailing teens' rights on the road. They're about keeping them - and us - alive until their abilites match the responsibilities every driver assumes when they're behind the wheel.
(Tickets for Lacey Day, which runs from 2pm to 6pm, cost $30 and will include food, live music by The Exceptions, other tunes by DJ Eric, and nice raffle items including a cool Baha Scooter courtesy of Lube Express on Frankford Ave. Holy Name of Jesus is located at Gaul and Berks Sts.)