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WTVC NewsChannel 9 :: News - Pay it Forward - Tiki Finlayson - Giving Her Late Son's Life New Meaning

Tiki Finlayson - Giving Her Late Son's Life New Meaning

Each day lives across this country are destroyed in a moment because of drunk driving.

On August 1st of 2011 tragedy struck a Chattanooga family when an impaired driver's reckless decision to get behind the wheel of a car claimed a young man's life.

It has been a long road for Tiki Finlayson. Her oldest son, Kevin Yates, was killed by a drunk driver at the age of 25.

Now she and her family are on a mission to give his life new meaning.

Grandmother Rene' Bell is a part of Tiki's crusade across the country, helping with the prevention program that was established shortly after Kevin's untimely death - striving to stop substance abuse before it starts. 

Rene' says, "Today we are 'Paying it Forward' to my daughter. She and my grandson, Derek Yates, co-founded the organization called 1N3. It's based on a statistic that one in three of us are impacted by drunk drivers."

"They just need help, sponsors and donations, and I just want to do anything I can to help keep them going and spreading awareness," Rene' says.

Tiki is just back from a school visit in Mississippi and is about leave for another community awareness event.

Rene is anxious but happy.  "She (Tiki) knows that I'm coming to see her, but she doesn't know why, and, so, I'm just so excited to have this opportunity. It's just such a priviledge for me to be able to help."

Rene' and I count out our 'Pay it Forward' cash and head to her daughter's home.

We arrive and Rene' knocks at her daughter's door.

Tiki walks outside and is surprised to see our camera.

"I just wanted to tell you how proud I am of what you're doing, so, on behalf of the McMahan Law Firm and Channel 9 News I want to 'Pay it Forward.' So, if you'll hold out your little hand: $100, $200, $300, $400, $500."

I ask Tiki how she is able to tell her heartbreaking story over and over again.

She explains, "I'm doing it because I don't want another family to have to deal with the pain and the issues that we deal with every day."

Each year on his birthday friends and family gather at Kevin's graveside to celebrate his remarkable life.
Tiki can no longer fight back her tears. "Kevin was most known for his very infectious smile. When he would walk into a room the room would just light up and that's why his nickname was Sunshine."

The 1N3 program keeps his legacy alive but the cost has been a challenge.

"We survive strictly on donations. We're not grant funded, federally funded. We don't charge for our presentations, because you can't put a price tag on a life," Tiki says.

Tiki and her family push forward, spreading Kevin's story, knowing that somewhere their Sunshine is smiling down.

you'd like to donate to 1N3 or learn more about becoming involved with their drug and alcohol awareness, addiction recovery and grief recovery programs.

Tiki Finlayson - Giving Her Late Son's Life New Meaning

Monday, April 21 2014, 07:36 PM EDT

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