MIDDLETOWN, Pa. – Penn State Harrisburg's men's and women's basketball programs are set to host their annual Orange 4 Owen Games in conjunction with Owen's Foundation at the Capital Union Building (CUB) on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 25.
For the seventh year in a row, Blue & White players, coaches, staff and fans in attendance will join members of the Brezitski family in helping to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. The men's and women's basketball teams are set to host North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) foe Penn State Berks on Saturday. The men will tip off at 1 p.m. followed by the women at 3 p.m. As they have in the past, players will wear orange (Owen's favorite color) during the game in support of the cause. Fans are also encouraged to wear orange to the contest.
In March of 2011, Owen Brezitski was struck and killed by a distracted driver at a crosswalk outside Bishop McDevitt High School after attending his sisters' band concert with his family earlier that evening. He was just eight years old. In the years since, the Brezitski family has honored Owen's memory through their work to combat distracted driving and spread awareness of its consequences.
The Orange 4 Owen and Owen's Foundation mission statement is to promote pedestrian, driver, traffic and childhood safety and all aspects of community safety as well as raise awareness of the consequences of distracted driving practices. As they have in years past, Penn State Harrisburg players took the pledge to protect lives by not texting or talking on the phone while driving, to be a good passenger and speak out if the driver of a car is distracted in any way, and to encourage friends and family to drive phone and distraction free.
As he does every year, men's basketball head coach Don Friday passed along a message in support of the Brezitski family and in hopes of bringing to light the severity of the consequences of distracted driving.
We gather again this year to bring attention to a very serious behavior that is prevalent not just here in the mid-state, but throughout the United States - distracted driving. We have heard the radio ads and seen the television commercials that highlight the risks associated with distracted driving. These ads are designed to prevent senseless and tragic consequences that occur when a driver behind the wheel does not have their full attention on the road. To put it in clearer terms: when we are traveling 55 miles per hour, we are moving 88 feet per second. For many of us who hear or see these commercials, we barely pause, because as humans we often think "it won't happen to me."
This is our seventh year hosting the Orange 4 Owen Game. Distracted driving is real and distracted driving has tragic and life-changing ramifications. The Brezitski family has suffered the most tragic and unspeakable occurrence; the loss of their child to a distracted driver. This is the seventh time we are coming together for this game, to share those painful circumstances, educate and put an end to distracted driving. Please, for Owen and his family, take the pledge. Put the cell phone down, leave the social media alone when behind the wheel of a car. This can happen to anyone and it is senseless and preventable. Put a wristband on your turn signal lever or remember when the phone pings or the push alert sounds what the consequences really are. Join the Brezitskis in their crusade to never have this happen to another child, man or woman ever again. Slow down, be alert, save a life. We are committed to ending distracted driving. We are Penn State!
Those who wish to take the pledge and learn more about Owen's Foundation and Orange 4 Owen are encouraged to visit www.orange4owen.org.