BAYONNE, NJ - Strength can take many forms. In Bayonne, true strength can be found behind the bright blue eyes of Pam O’Donnell. Just three years ago, a terrible car crash on the New Jersey Turnpike took half of Pam’s family. Her husband Tim and five year old daughter Bridget were killed in an incident spurred by a driver that was drugged-driving.
A candlelit vigil was held at Stephen Gregg/Hudson County Park Friday to mark the third anniversary of that tragic February afternoon. Pam and her daughter, Ali, 9, are all that remain from that family unit. When you speak with Pam, you won’t find anger and remorse, but miraculously you will find hope and love.
Since losing her husband and daughter Pam has remained committed to two things: Ali and raising awareness about drugged and distracted driving. Pam has found herself speaking to audiences all over the area, telling her story in hopes that no one else will ever have to suffer the immeasurable loss that she has endured.
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Just recently, Pam stepped out of a cab at Columbia University in New York City and looked around in awe. “Tim was the educator and the brains of this family, not me, Pam told TAPinto Bayonne modestly. “To find myself speaking at an Ivy League school was surreal. I know Tim is looking down with pride.”
We asked about Ali and she beams with pride. “Ali is such a great kid. She is not bitter or angry, she wants to help people. During Christmas she spent her own money on gifts for military families because she feels bad for anyone that doesn’t have their family around them”.
A 4th-grader, Ali seems to be following in her mom’s footsteps already. Just last week she requested a private meeting with Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti. Ali is now wanting to get her own message out about distracted driving, her mother said.
Pam and Ali are as devoted to Bayonne as they are to their message. “I love the people of Bayonne. They are my support, so many people in this city have helped me to be okay," says Pam. She lists the names of her friends that make up her support network, specifically calling out Council-President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski. “Each night at 11:59pm, I say ‘okay, we got through another day. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring us, but with my friends in Bayonne we will be alright.”
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