The best thing we could do is try and do something so that it doesn’t happen to other people, you know, what happened to us. And we came up with some ideas, but we knew basically that, just give people an option to make a right choice, because it’s all about choices.
And we wanted to raise awareness of, you know, we’re not saying don’t go out and have a good time. We’re saying just make the right decisions when you do before you start drinking. So we came up with Netter’s Fund, which I can explain that a little better, what the name means. When Annette was in school, nobody could say Annette, so they called her Net, N-E-T, and that was her nickname.
And then when she went into high school, it became Netters, and that was pretty much her nickname. So we said, “Well, let’s see if we can give him a ride home,” you know, a free ride home and everybody thought that was a good idea. We talked about doing it ourselves, you know, just picking people up at bars, a group of family and friends, but I was a little concerned about the liability issues.
And I said, “Why reinvent the wheel? The taxi companies do it every day, so why don’t we just talk to them and see if they’d be willing to work with us and our program,” and they were. Black & White and Capitaland were the first two in Rensselaer County to get involved. And basically, we created a voucher system. People use the voucher at the bars and they hand that to the cab driver, and then the taxi companies send me a bill once a month, and then we pay it out of the fund.
And then we said, “What about the excuse of, ‘Well, I got to get back to get my car the next day?'” So we included that as part of the program, and they can use another voucher to get back and get their car. So the program grew. We were doing a bar a month when we first started and at some point we ended up with 23 bars in it. And people were using it pretty steadily.
We were averaging about a ride a day. You know, as time passes, people forget, until another tragedy happens, and then everybody remembers. So we started seeing a decline in some of the bars, and we met with them and we asked them if they would be willing to do a fundraiser a year to help fund it.
And as far as the funding side of things, we have a Bowl-a-Thon and a golf tournament each year, and those funds go directly into the account and pay for those rides. So that’s how we figured we could fund it just with fundraisers and donations.
Since Uber and Lyft came around, which is fine because people are still making the right choices by using those services. We’ve seen a decline in the rides, but there’s still four or five bars that really use the program regularly. We’re approaching 3,500 rides, so we like to think that out of that, we think it was, hopefully saved a life for somebody, you know, somebody’s family, or something, by doing that.