Richard Levitan shares why he is motivated to ride for his daughter Merritt and the Merritt’s Way Team tomorrow morning, Saturday, September 26 in the Rodman Ride for Kids. 

The sixth and final in a series of personal interviews, please read and share – a Father’s Story

“Why I Ride for Merritt” by Richard Levitan

Sis and Dad

Merritt Levitan with me – Summer 2012

Why I Ride for Merritt.

Where do I begin to share my story. At what point do I open the flood gates and let you into my world – to reconstruct in words or sentences what my first born daughter means to me – and how she affected my life in the eighteen years Merritt crawled, walked, ran and biked this earth before 4 seconds of mindless behavior took her – physically – from our world on July 3, 2013.

Words fail.

Everyone reacts differently to grief, and I stand not in judgement of the different expressions. Some retreat. Some unfortunately attempt to medicate with alcohol or drugs. Some, the more fortunate, draw upon the strength of faith, friends and family to get them through the many dark hours. And trust me, there are many.

Since Merritt’s death, my wife Anna cannot get on a bike. The joy she once shared with me to hop on a bike and spend a summer’s afternoon exploring nature, birding, laughing, feeling the breeze in her hair, has left her, perhaps forever.  Instead, Anna runs.

But I ride.

I ride for all the fathers who have lost.

I ride for ANYONE who has lost.

I ride because Merritt is worthy of my riding. I ride because I want the world to know about a life so precious, taken so effortlessly and so tragically in 4 seconds of texting. I ride to make a difference. I ride to educate. I ride to change behavior. And ultimately, I hope to save lives for I wish this pain on no one – and especially, no father.

Or mother or sister or brother. Or friend. And the list goes on like a wave, such is the loss of Merritt.

I ride because I am and will always be – Merritt’s Dad.

Thank you for joining me in this mission to end distracted driving. Together, we can and will save lives.

Tomorrow 23 riders will join me in the Rodman Ride for Merritt’s Way and TextLess Live More.  Anna, Hunter, Joe and I are profoundly grateful for their – and your – continued support.

Ride on, for Merritt,

Richard Levitan

Anna, Merritt and Rich Boat Dance

Anna, Merritt and Richard Levitan – Milton Academy Boat Dance – Spring 2012

Since 2013, Merritt’s Way has distributed over 10,000 TextLess Live More blue bracelets around the nation with a goal to raise awareness about the dangers of driving while distracted by social media. Merritt’s story and the TextLess Live More message of Safe Driving Behind the Wheel has reached over 23 million readers around the world

Leading psychologists acknowledge the TextLess Live More message of social media distraction among teens as the most critical issue facing a generation.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Distraction is the LEADING cause of accidents among teen drivers. 

In June 2015, Merritt’s Way awarded the first annual Merritt Levitan Courage Award to the founders of TextLess Live More. And in Merritt’s hometown of Boston, Massachusetts, talented inner city students, Merritt Levitan TEEP Scholars, have had the opportunity to build critical leadership and college readiness skills, all provided by the Merritt’s Way Fund and your generosity.

Please consider making a donation to Team Merritt’s Way by clicking here:  (http://trinity.kintera.org/ride/teammerrittsway) to help us reach our goal of Saving Lives in honor of Merritt.