Teens from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berrien and Cass awarded - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Teens from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berrien and Cass awarded scholarships for driver's ed

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Darren Florey was a recipient of a driver's education scholarship Darren Florey was a recipient of a driver's education scholarship
NILES, MI - Big Brothers Big Sisters has teamed up with the Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to launch a program providing scholarships to teens for driver education. Five members of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berrien and Cass became the first recipients of those scholarships on Monday afternoon.

"It meant a lot because you always see these people who can't afford driver's training," Darren Florey said. He says he had been trying to save whatever money he could to help pay for driver's education. The scholarship was much needed help.

The scholarships were provided by the T. Wall Foundation in conjunction with the driving school All Star Driver Education. Presidents of All Star Driver Education, Tom and Brent Wall, have provided scholarships for some time. They approached the Secretary of State to join their efforts for safer teen drivers.

Darren's mother, Julie Florey, says as a single parent it was going to be difficult to pay for her son's driver's education. She says the phone call telling her Darren was chosen was more than welcomed. "I was astounded and excited and I thought it was a very big honor," Julie Florey said.

According to the Department of State there are about 3,000 vehicle related deaths each year in the U.S. which is the leading cause of death for teens in the country. Also, one out of every five licensed 16-year-olds will be in a vehicle crash. Of all the fatal crashes in Michigan in 2012, ten percent of the drivers were under the age of 21.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berrien and Cass Executive Director Christina Frank says that is why it is so important teens can afford to take driver's education. "This is such a great opportunity because we know these kids would not otherwise be able to get this," Frank said. "It goes far beyond just driving. It's really about what's next. How do you have a job? How do you play sports? So this is kind of that first piece of that."

Michigan teenagers who don't take driver's education have to wait until they are 18-years-old to take a road test. If the teenager is go to take a course, he or she can begin at the age of 14 years and eight months. Darren Florey can start his driver's education program in late October.

"I'm really excited. On a scale from one to ten, it's a ten," Darren Florey said.

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