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Lexington’s Alex Otte named National President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, herself a survivor

Lexington native Alex Otte, a graduate of the University of Kentucky, has been named National President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Otte’s family turned to MADD in 2010, when she was 13 years old, after she was severely injured by an intoxicated boat operator on Lake Herrington in Danville.
Otte was on a jet ski when a drunk boat operator slammed into her at nearly 70 mph, causing a severe brain injury, a broken neck and collarbone, a shattered jaw, a lacerated liver, two shattered femurs, and the loss of her right leg below the knee.

“MADD showed my family and me that we were not alone,” Otte said. “And now I have dedicated my life to ensuring that there will come a day when no other child is forced to face such a tragedy.”

Alex Otte

As president, Otte will serve as national spokesperson and chief advocate for MADD, which grew from a grassroots movement begun by a grieving mother in 1980 to one of the most influential and effective organizations in history.

“I look forward to continuing MADD’s 40-year legacy of putting a name and a face to the thousands of victims of drunk and drugged driving,” Otte said. “The stories we share have the power to save lives.”

Surviving and thriving against long odds, Otte is a graduate of the School of Journalism and Media at UK, she also earned a minor in political science. She has worked in corporate communications and is a professional photographer. Understanding the power of “story,” she has told her story around the country to spread awareness of drunk driving and to work toward preventing tragedies like she suffered.

Otte became involved with MADD as a volunteer, attending annual Walk Like MADD events and connecting with students in high schools in her home state. She worked with MADD Kentucky staff and other dedicated volunteers to pass state legislation requiring the use of ignition interlocks for drunk driving offenders — first in 2015 and again in 2019, making the Kentucky the 34th state with an all-offender ignition interlock law. Alex spoke out again on behalf of Marsy’s Law, a crime victims’ rights bill, in Kentucky in 2018 and 2020, when it was ultimately added as an amendment to the state constitution.

Otte served as a National Teen Influencer for MADD in 2014 and was awarded MADD’s National Youth Activist of the Year award in 2015 for her tireless efforts to pass ignition interlock legislation in her state.

Alex, 13, coming out of coma in hosptial after the boating accident. (Provided)

“Alex has taken a tragedy that should never happen to anyone, let alone a 13-year-old, and turned her experience into a life’s mission of making sure another child will not have to suffer at the hands of drunk or drugged driver,” said MADD National CEO Adam Vanek. “As a high school student, she championed MADD’s mission to end drunk driving and helped lead efforts to pass stronger laws. Alex’s dedication to the mission, compassion for victims and skillful advocacy will help MADD achieve its ultimate goal of eliminating drunk driving forever.” 

Otte follows Helen Witty, who served as MADD National President in 2019 and 2020. Witty came to MADD after her daughter, Helen Marie, was killed by a drunk and drugged driver while rollerblading on a bike path on a sunny afternoon on June 1, 2000. Before becoming National President in 2019, Helen spent 11 years as a MADD volunteer victim advocate and seven years as a staff member facilitating MADD’s prevention programs in South Florida.
“We are grateful for Helen’s 20-year dedication to MADD and its lifesaving mission of eliminating drunk driving, fighting drugged driving and educating parents and teens about the dangers of underage drinking,” Vanek said. “Helen is a compassionate listener and a powerful advocate who has spent 20 years sharing the loss of her daughter, Helen Marie, in order to create a nation of No More Victims. Helen’s work has and will continue to make a difference in the thousands of lives she has touched.”

See this 2018 Kentucky Kernel feature story about Alex Otte.

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