Daily Point of Light # 2608 Feb 3, 2004

Spencer Michael Free, known as “Mike” Free, has since October 1998 been a dedicated volunteer for the Cruisin’ Not Boozin’ Program, a non-profit community educational program of the Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital of Malvern, Penn.

The Cruisin’ Not Boozin’ Program is an injury prevention program which focuses on educating teenagers and adults about the devastating combination of using alcohol drugs and driving. This unique program uses speakers who were involved in alcohol/drug related accidents, survived, but were left with permanent life altering problems such as traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injuries. For the past 15 years, the program has not only reached ½ million teenagers and young adults at middle, high school and college assemblies but has proven very effective in changing attitudes about drinking and driving through a student measurement survey developed by the Cruisin’ Not Boozin’ Program and administered by participating schools.

Initially, Mr. Free was a Volunteer Driver, driving speakers to program assemblies since most of the speakers cannot drive due to their impairments and the program does not have the funds to hire staff. He still continues to be a driver even though his abilities and expertise go far beyond the skills of driving a car. His contributions to the Cruisin’ Not Boozin’Program has been offered with the attitude that he will do “whatever it takes.”

Mr. Free is also accomplished inventor, statistician, and writer; it is clear that his chosen job as a driver is a labor of love. He has offered his professional knowledge of math and statistics to help design and implement a measurement tool and survey to statistically show the impact of the speakers in affecting a change in the attitudes of students we present to our school assemblies. Because of his efforts, operational grants from foundations and corporate funding sources have been identified. The Student Survey, which is also shared with participating school, provides important data about student’s profiles, which can in turn be used for PTA meetings, funding sources, and School Board meetings.

Perhaps his most important contribution is his commitment to the speakers in the program, which goes above and beyond his duties as a driver. He has used his own funds to purchase a computer for one of the speakers, who is paralyzed, brain injured and lives alone. He helped another young lady suffering from a traumatic brain injury to start a mini chicken farm behind her house because he felt it would help her with her rehabilitation.

For the past nine years, in addition to the Cruisin’ Not Boozin’ Program, Mr. Free has volunteered as a Biostatistician Consultant to a research project at Lankenau Hospital in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. This research project involves cancer cell research and the search for a cure. As a result of his contributions, the program director secured a $120,000 grant and12 other researchers have generated funding for their respective projects.