We are the Digital Generation. We have a responsibility to ourselves and future generations.
We are a student-led, peer-to-peer, national awareness campaign with a goal is to save lives and prevent accidents by ending distracted driving.
We encourage our peers to begin a healthy conversation around digital distraction. Dialogue includes an examination of how we, the Digital Generation, can use our digital resources safely and responsibly, with a goal to never “go digital” behind-the-wheel.
Driving is a real-time commitment. Distraction of any kind can have deadly or severe consequences. TLLM dialogue exposes the risks and real dangers of driving distracted for those behind-the-wheel and anyone who comes in contact with a distracted driver, including passengers, fellow drivers, pedestrians and bikers – like Merritt Levitan, an 18-year-old girl on a bike who lost her life on July 2, 2013 to a young person who was texting behind-the-wheel.
Merritt died because of 4 seconds of texting.
Since 2013, Textless Live More has shipped over 10,000 TLLM blue bracelets and phone stickers to students around the country and thousands more from Georgia, to Vermont, to California, have participated in the TLLM Awareness Program.
To date, over 1/4 of million people have read Merritt’s story and watched the TLLM PSAs, and that number climbs daily.
Multiple national media outlets such as ABCnews.com, foxnews.com, The Boston Globe, yahoo.com, and others have run Merritt’s story and acknowledge the TextLess Live More message of social media distraction as a critical issue facing our generation.
Thank you for spreading the word about TextLess Live More!
Meet Merritt: Our Inspiration for TextLess Live More
We want to introduce you to Merritt. In the words we write, we hope to paint a picture of a compassionate young woman who took action everyday, overcame obstacles, and changed her world for the better — all within eighteen years.
Merritt Levitan lost her life on July 2, 2013 to a young distracted driver who was texting behind-the-wheel.
This is Merritt’s story…
A Letter from Merritt’s Family
Merritt Levitan never let anything get her down or prevent her from achieving her dreams. Born on October 11, 1994 in Boston, Massachusetts, to parents Anna Cheshire Levitan and Rich Levitan, Merritt was the adored older sister, aka “Sissy,” to her younger sister Hunter Levitan and brother Joseph Levitan.
Precocious and super intelligent, Merritt attended Kingsley Montessori in Boston’s Back Bay and entered Milton Academy, in Milton, Massachusetts, as a bright-eyed kindergartener. She embraced learning with a sense of adventure, humor, and determination.
On Martin Luther King Day in January 2002, midway through first grade, Merritt was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Treated at the Joslin Diabetes Center, Merritt took the lead for her care. Within just five weeks of diagnosis, Merritt learned to prick her finger, test blood sugars multiple times a day, and give herself shots of insulin. She was determined to do all the things that she enjoyed pre-diagnosis, including soccer, overnight camp, skiing, swimming, and tennis. And she did!
Doctors at the Joslin were immediately impressed by Merritt, and a mutual admiration grew between the confident seven year old and her team of endocrinologists, including Pediatric Endocrinologist Dr. Alyne Ricker and Pediatric Nurse Kerry Milaszewski.
Imagine letting a seven year old give herself a shot at school, on the playground, in an airplane, at camp? Merritt insisted on independence. That was Merritt’s Way.
A competent downhill skier and racer as a young teen, Merritt became an Instructor-in-Training at Sugarbush Mountain, in Warren, Vermont, for the Blazer’s program, where she taught children skiing on weekends during the winter. She attended Windridge Tennis Camps during the summers and was named Outstanding Camper at fourteen.
At age eighteen, the winter of her senior year in high school, Merritt became a full-fledged Coach and Ski Instructor with her own Blazer’s group. She proudly wore the official Sugarbush Mountain Ski Instructor Jacket and Hat, as she taught budding skiers how to tackle black diamond slopes and ski with competence and confidence. Merritt adored “calculated” adventure, but she always put safety first, especially with the kids.
Despite her natural gifts for athletics and passion for adventure, Merritt cherished her education most. Throughout her thirteen years at Milton Academy, Merritt worked hard and enjoyed every aspect of the community. She learned to speak and read Spanish, spent a month with her Spanish class and a lovely host family at the Colegio el Pilar in Madrid, was co-captain of the Varsity Tennis Team, one of the editors of the independent school newspaper, head of the outdoor club, and an accomplished 3-D sculptural artist. She cherished abiding friendships with peers, teachers, mentors, coaches, and administrators. Merritt loved Milton.
She was accepted to Colgate University and was very much looking forward to that next milestone, but first she wanted to travel the United States over the summer… by bike!
Merritt applied to Overland’s American Challenge, a 3,000 mile cross country bike trip that begins in South Carolina at the Atlantic Ocean and ends in Santa Monica at the Pacific Ocean. Aware of the potential issues she might face with her diabetes, Merritt began to train for the journey.
For her senior project, Merritt biked 500 miles around New England and the Boston area and recorded her blood sugar levels and various bike routes. Her intention was to create a biking guide book for Type 1 Juvenile Diabetics. She presented her findings to both Milton Academy and the Joslin Diabetes Center to enthusiastic acclaim. Merritt graduated from Milton on June 7, 2013.
A week later, she and her mom drove 1,000 miles with her bike and adored dog Biscuit, down to St. Simons Island, Georgia to prepare for the American Challenge. For ten days, Merritt trained in 100 degree heat and humidity to be ready for the ride of a lifetime.
Merritt was ready. She was pumped. She met her group in Charleston, South Carolina on June 18, 2013 and the group of thirteen talented teenagers and two enthusiastic, highly trained guides began their quest to ride across the United States. They wore all the proper safety attire: helmets, vests, and flags on lead bikes to make drivers aware of the group.
On July 2, 2013, Merritt and her fellow bikers were riding along a rural road in Arkansas. They had crossed the mighty Mississippi the day before and logged 900 miles on bikes. All felt strong and fit and ready for the challenging Rockies ahead in the distance several weeks away.
A young man, driving distracted, hit the group of thirteen, injuring several bikers severely and critically injuring Merritt. We are a family and people of faith, and we hold the young man and his family in our hearts with absolute compassion. Yet the costly accident could have been prevented by education and awareness. Texting and driving is not against the law in the State of Arkansas.
Merritt Levitan died one day later on July 3, 2013 in Memphis, Tennessee, from brain injuries sustained by the accident. She was surrounded by family and close friends who flew in from Massachusetts, Vermont, Georgia, Texas, and California on a moment’s notice, empowered by the 23rd Psalm.
Merritt was an organ donor, for this was also Merritt’s Way.
Over 1,500 friends attended Merritt’s memorials at Trinity Church in Boston, Massachusetts and on St. Simons Island, Georgia. As friends, teachers, coaches, mentors, and family gathered to pay tribute to Merritt, a joint mission began. We all knew we had to carry on a legacy so powerful, so positive, so essential, to help others achieve potential, as Merritt did without fanfare or need for acclaim.
The Merritt’s Way Fund was born, to do good works in education and leadership for the underserved, followed by the national campaign TextLess Live More, to bring awareness to the dangers of texting and driving for EVERYONE.
Merritt took action, and everyday she inspires us to take action. Merritt’s “way” is about embracing the world and the people around you. Helping kids believe that they can accomplish anything with commitment and hard work. Merritt’s “way,” her style, her values such as truth, integrity, discipline, and unending compassion — and her enduring smile — are a guide for how we, too, can be our best and make a difference in our school, community and society.
We honor Merritt and we honor YOU who read this. Join us. Live Merritt’s Way and please don’t text and drive.
Love and thanks,
Anna, Rich, Hunter and Joe Levitan