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Lewis Owens

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Merritt Levitan

On Saturday, September 22nd, my son, Peter and I are participating in a bike ride around Boston under the slogan "Merritt's Way". This is an annual bike ride to spread awareness for distracted driving, and, in particular, texting and driving. This is the 6th annual bike ride the team has participated in but the first time my son and I will participate. Our current plan is to ride 50 miles together.

In the fall of 1982 I attended Dartmouth College.
One of the first people I met was Rich Levitan.
A smart, tough kid from Philly.
We became great and immediate friends. He played football. I played hockey.
And we eventually played rugby together- as teammates we went all the way to the Collegiate National Championships our senior year.
I was in his wedding when he married his wonderful wife, Anna.
Many great memories and experiences from our youth.

Over the last 35 years we did as all good guy friends do; repeatedly lose track of each other only to immediately catch up.
And at those times when we did catch up, we'd hold onto the details of each other's kids hoping they could have the life experiences we once did.
Rich and Anna were blessed with 3 amazing kids.
Merritt, Joe and Hunter.

I remember July 3, 2013 in the same way one remembers 9/11.

On that day Rich and Anna lost their vivacious, beautiful, brilliant and talented daughter Merritt (pictured above) to a young driver who was texting-behind-the-wheel. Merritt was 18, had just graduated from Milton Academy and was on a cross country bike trip to celebrate her summer before entering college at Colgate later that fall. She was a very special soul and she had the best qualities of Rich and Anna all in one.
She died at the same age Rich and I were when we met as college freshman; that fall in New Hampshire so long ago.

The worlds of Rich, Anna and all those who love them changed irrevocably on that tragic summer day five years ago.

To honor Merritt's life and legacy - and because she was so worthy - Rich's family created the Merritt's Way Fund to save and change lives.

The Merritt's Way Fund and Team Merritt's Way supports two initiatives in honor of Merritt:

TextLess Live More is a national education and awareness campaign to end distracted driving permanently; educate young people about the real dangers of driving distracted; and prevent tragic crashes associated with driving distracted.

Since its founding in 2013 by Merritt's friends at Milton Academy, TextLess Live More has been presented to thousands of young people around the United States and received national press and recognition for its education and awareness initiatives to end distracted driving permanently.

In April 2018, TextLess Live More became a national partner with SADD, Students Against Destructive Decisions, the nation's preeminent youth health and safety organization.

Merritt Levitan Scholarship Fund at TEEP
The Merritt Levitan Scholarship at TEEP provides critical funding for character and leadership building for Boston's inner city high school youth. TEEP is supported by the Trinity Boston Foundation.

The bike ride’s goal is to share Merritt's story and spread awareness. Each rider that participates is also asked to raise $2,000 to support a scholarship in honor of Merritt: TextLess Live More and the Merritt Levitan TEEP Scholars. With an estimated 50 riders this year, the ride hopes to raise $100,000. The link to donate is attached. Donations of any size would be greatly appreciated.

On behalf of myself, my dear friend Rich, his family and Pete (my son who is riding with me) we thank you for supporting my ride, Team Merritt's Way and these two important, life-altering initiatives.

We ride for Merritt. We ride to save lives. We ride to change lives.

Join us!

Thank you,

Lewis Owens
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