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Bikernet Profile: DIANE PEARSON - HER MISSION IN LIFE IS MOTORCYCLE AWARENESS

MOM on a Mission to Promote Motorcycle Safety and Awareness

By DMAC
6/15/2016


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Left, Dmac and Diane Pearson
Left, Dmac and Diane Pearson


The State of Florida's Motorcycle Safety Program provides education and support for motorcycle riders, trainers, sponsors, local government, law enforcement agencies and emergency services in Florida. They earmarked the following budgets: Motorcycle Program Evaluation and Data Collection - $100,000; Motorcycle Helmet Observation Survey - $100,000; PSA Analysis, Management and Focus Group Testing - $50,000; Motorcycle Education and Injury Prevention in Trauma Centers - $200,000; Safety Motorcycle and Rider Techniques -Osceola County-$20,000; Broward County Motorcycle Safety Enforcement Program -$64,028, just to name a few.
 
Is all of this money supposed to prevent motorcycle fatalities?
 

 
 
Lately, every time you read the paper, IONTB, Facebook, etc. another motorcycle fatality is mentioned. Some weeks there are 6-8 MC related fatalities in one county alone.

Fortunately, in Pinellas County, and surrounding areas, we have M.O.M., aka Mother on a Mission, Diane Pearson. Her therapy is Motorcycle Awareness. No fancy budgets or grants, are given to this Angel of our Roads. In fact, it's just the opposite: she provides motorcycle awareness on a daily basis, for free, and she's going strong for 10 years now.
 
How did this happen to a mother of four from Safety Harbor? May 19, 2005, her son, Gene, was out riding his motorcycle in Tampa. As in typical accident fashion, a distracted driver turned left in front of the young motorcyclist. The driver didn't even look before pulling out from a stop sign. This brief incident destroyed Diane's world. She was taken from home, thinking she was going to the hospital to see Gene, but instead was delivered to the accident scene, where she had to endure 4 hours on-sight, with her son covered by a tarp. She wasn't able to see or hold him, or say goodbye. It was just another statistic for the books.

Daily, she relives that scene, lights flashing, the blood stained tarp, and total disbelief. Then, one day, she saw something that altered her life. She was accompanying her daughter to the obstetrician's office and spotted a bumper sticker. It said "Look Twice, Save a Life - Motorcycles are Everywhere."
 
She decided then and there, she would make this her mission--passing out motorcycle awareness stickers. She drove directly home and tracked down the stickers on the internet. She found the website started by the parents of Lance Robert Malone, who rode the Silent Highway in 1995.
 
She ordered 25 bumper stickers in Purple and White (chosen to match the color of Lance's motorcycle) for $6.25. Upon their arrival she distributed them in one day! That was it.....Mother on a Mission was born.
 
 
From October 2006 to February 2008, she distributed 10,000 bumper stickers for free to anyone who wanted one, enlisting the help of the DMV and Tax Collector offices in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

 She enlisted her husband, Gene Sr., into driving up and down US 19 and distributing stickers to local businesses and at the local drag strips.
 
While she driving down US 19 one day, another thought sprang to mind, putting her bumper sticker on a billboards. She e-mailed Clear Channel with her idea and they responded with "when do you want the sign up?"  
 
The first billboard was placed on US 19 in Clearwater in August 2006, as a donation! She contacted Yellow Cab and asked if they would put bumper stickers on their taxis - they replied they could not, however, in return, they offered her 15 roof top cab signs with her Slogan in Purple and White for 1 year.
 
From a contact at Yellow Cab, she received 80 Commercials from Mobile Media for 1 year on Tan Talk 1340AM . CBS donated Billboards, and she had bus benches emblazoned with her "Look Twice - Save a Life..." slogan.  Much of these efforts come with costs, so she kicked off the Gene Pearson Motorcycle Awareness Foundation: www.genepearson.org, and her Motorcycle Awareness Campaign grew.



Ten years later, she is amazed. She still says, "I just give out bumper stickers."
 
The other day, she was at a red light and in the three lanes, each car sported one of her stickers, each car arrived from a different state: Iowa, Kansas and Florida. This brought tears to her eyes! She has mailed stickers to every state in the US, as well as to Australia and Norway!
 
A friend in Largo mails out a sticker with every parts order shipped. Her UPS man took some to Africa to distribute and made sure all of the taxi drivers in his hometown sport them. She believes in repetition, the more people who see the stickers, the more awareness it brings! Her mission is catching on everywhere!

 Awareness Commercials are aired at the gas pumps at every Exxon Station on 580/Belcher in Dunedin. They ran every six minutes after she wrote to Comcast, who donated one month of commercials to her foundation.
 
This year, at the Full Throttle Expo in January 2016, she passed out 3000 bumper stickers - the most she has ever distributed at an event (and this didn't include the others in boxes she passed out to everyone else). For her son's birthday, and special occasions i.e. May, Motorcycle Awareness month, CBS donates 1 free month on an LED Board with her slogan.
 
She continues promote billboards placed throughout the area; however, she has to pay for the billboard vinyls (each vinyl costs $679.00 for 1yr or as long as the vinyl lasts) and has to sign a contract every three months, which includes Clear Channel donating 1 billboard (15k in advertising fees) for 1 year. Her organization cost her $3k out of pocket to establish, and it took her  six months to get it approved back in 2006. The way it is structured she can't sell anything, and must submit yearly tax reports to the State of Florida.

She received only one grant from the American Motorcycle Association. She scours the internet looking for grants. She is a sole proprietor of her foundation, a 501c3/non-profit organization.
 
On lean months when there isn't any funding, she continues paying personally for shipping costs, supplies etc....and uses the money tree in her back yard (also known as a credit card). Only in the past three years has she been asking for people to pay postage for larger quantities of bumper stickers. She usually pays the three free-sticker fees herself. It's not just about the postage. All this doesn't deter her passion for Motorcycle Awareness.

She has contacted the DOT and was turned down twice to have the "Look Twice..." slogan put on the Amber Alert signs, but years later it showed up as "Watch for Motorcycles" as it does in California. She has attended Safety Council meetings and voiced her ideas.  

She balances her roles of wife, mother, grandmother, employee, motorcycle awareness activist with ease. Her secret is her passion to keep her son's name out there and sharing Motorcycle Awareness.  It's critical, look twice before you pull out onto the road, and accidents can be avoided if you are cautious and share the road.
 
She shares her story with anyone and everyone who will listen. She is still angry: The other driver was not issued a citation or charged in her son's accident because there was "no criminal intent."
 
She learned to channel that anger into a positive cause - Motorcycle Awareness. She finally found peace because, "You can only go so long without cracking and exploding!"
 
  This year, she started volunteering at Van Dyke Church on Lakeshore Rd in Lutz for the Grief Share class. She is one of three people who help out during the 13-week course designed to help anyone who experienced loss of a loved one. It took her a long time to move forward. She just couldn't look past the grave, and pretty much just functioned and pretended everything was going to be okay.
 
Finally, she feels she is able to look beyond the grave, with God's help, and begin looking up. She is now giving back to others who have experienced the loss of a loved one. Anyone is welcome to attend her Grief Share Classes, as they are non-denominational.

As of this year, she hopes to pass the 700,000 mark for bumper stickers distributed. Last year alone, she spent over $700.00 on postage fees. When she orders bumper stickers, she gets a better price with larger quantities and tries to order 100,000 at a time, which costs $900.00 to ship, plus the $8-9K cost for the stickers. They arrive in 25-30, 55lb boxes. Gene Sr. loads and delivers them home. Her last order was for 70,000 stickers, and she has just two boxes left.

Diane is inspired by all of the motorcycle riders out there every single day. "I feel like their Mom," she said. " and "I need to look out for each one of them."
 
 
"There's nobody with bigger hearts than bikers." She credits attorney, Fran Haasch, for being her role model, "...she does so much for everybody. Not only does she ride, but she is just a super person!"
 

 
 
As a woman of deep faith, she credits God because during times of need, someone/something has always been there to help her: a check shows up in the mail, offers for help, people reach out to help her. She has been steadfast, never giving up.   She feels her organization should have "gone under" years ago, but 700,000 bumper stickers and 10 years later, she is still strong and committed!  

Her goal for the next 10 years is to "BE ALIVE!" Her birthday is May 24th, 2016, and she turns 70 years young. May is a very sad month for her - as Mothers Day, 2005 is when she last saw her son Gene, alive. May is also Motorcycle Awareness Month. She is trying to reach 1 million, as the number of bumper stickers distributed in her son's name, and she is well on her way!
 
She hand stamps each and every bumper sticker and considers every stamp a kiss to her son, Gene. When she sees her purple and white, Look Twice - Save a Life - Motorcycles are Everywhere bumper stickers displayed on a vehicle, she feels that it's a kiss from her son to her. All this from a woman who feels that her greatest accomplishment in life is her family/children/grandchildren because without their support, she would never have the ability to go on with the Gene Pearson Motorcycle Awareness Foundation.

Please feel free to stop by, pick up a bumper sticker, and say "Thanx!" to Diane Pearson in person at the "Thank You, M.O.M." fundraiser, Sunday, June 26, 2016 from 12pm to 5pm at the Red Tiki Bar, 7361 46th Avenue North, St. Petersburg, FL, presented by Friends of Diane Pearson along with sponsors: Full Throttle, Fran Haasch, Gotta Havit Insurance, and Lifting Heart Together. All donations/proceeds go directly to the Gene Pearson Motorcycle Awareness Foundation. www.genepearson.org (website has Paypal link).
 
Editor's Note:  There is nothing stronger than a mother's love. Her's is reaching beyond her son's grave to make a difference. Trying to prevent other's from living her tragedy and losing someone they love. Trying to prevent a motorcyclist being glanced over by a motorist not truly paying attention. I know I'm going to be donating and then ordering some bumper stickers to share with family and friends. In addition, Bikernet and Bikernet Baggers will be sponsoring her efforts for ever more.  -- La La

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