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West Tech senior wins iChoose to Drive competition

A senior at West Career and Technical Academy was named the winner of the fifth annual iChoose to Drive safe-driving awareness campaign. The contest, developed by Findlay Automotive Group and Cox Communications, is designed to draw attention to the dangers of distracted driving by challenging students to create a 30-second public service announcement with a convincing safe-driving message.

A group of judges initially narrowed the field of dozens of entries from high schools throughout the valley to five finalists. From there it was open to the public to vote for a winner.

The PSA that received the most votes was titled “Every 15 Minutes” and was created by Parker Badenhuizen, a senior at West Career and Technical Academy. This was the third year a student at that school under the mentorship of instructor Kiplyn Sweikert won the competition, which culminates during the National Safety Council’s National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Findlay Automotive Group and Cox Communications presented a check for $1,000 to Badenhuizen, whose PSA was so well done that even among the five finalists he captured 55 percent of the vote.

Badenhuizen’s high school also received a check for $1,000. His very simple but effective plea “Please don’t text and drive; it could end your life” drove home a powerful message.

Sweikert received an iPad Pro and a $100 American Express gift card from Cox Communications.

“I always had hope that I might win but never thought that it would actually happen,” Badenhuizen said. “My brother, Camden, was the actor in the film and very easy to work with. In addition, my parents, Sean and Tobi Whitaker, were great inspirations and gave me a lot of support. I had an idea and just went for it.”

Badenhuizen, who will enter the National Guard after graduation May 26, said he would like to go into the news business as a cinematographer after he gets out of the service.

“I really wanted to push forward the emotional aspect of the film,” he said. “In the film, we attempted to make it look like my little brother, Camden, almost got hit. We have the video to show what very well could have been real.”

Badenhuizen said the money he won would be used to help purchase a vehicle after he got out of the National Guard.

Cox Communications will now air Badenhuizen’s PSA “Every 15 Minutes” on dozens of channels in Southern Nevada. It began airing Monday and will run through June 24.

To watch the top five finalist videos, visit www.iChooseToDrive.com.

“I was super impressed with the quality of all of the videos submitted this year, said Findlay Automotive Group CFO Tyler Corder. “I have to commend Parker as his video was especially well done. It portrayed the dangers of distracted driving in a very creative way. It makes me feel good to see the talent and creativity of our high school students.”

“This was our fifth year of presenting the iChoose to Drive video contest. Hopefully, we have helped raise the awareness of teens, and maybe we’ve even saved someone’s life. That is the entire goal of the program.”

“We’re proud to partner with our friends at Findlay Automotive on this annual community campaign aimed at educating and encouraging safe driving choices,” said Michael F. Bolognini, market vice president at Cox Communications Las Vegas. “Parker’s winning PSA will air on Cox channels throughout May and June as we continue to share this important message.”

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