Posted Online: March 22, 2013, 2:50 am

Seatbelts save special gifts

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By Claudia lLucks, cjloucks@qconline.com

Photo: Claudia Loucks | correspondent
Randy and Melissa Ledezma hold a framed photograph of their son, Tyler Ledezma, who was 16 when he died from injuries incurred in a car accident in 2010. The East Moline couple has dedicated their lives to speaking about the importance of wearing seatbelts. They will be at Geneseo High School baseball games on Wednesday, March 27.
GENESEO -- A seatbelt may have savedRandy and Melissa Ledezma's special "gift."

They call life a gift, but lost an important one when their son, Tyler Ledezma, died at the age of 16 in a July 30, 2010, car accident.

"'Tyler was going 30 mph and lost control of the car on a gravel road when the accident happened, and had he had his seatbelt on, he would be with here with us today," Mrs. Ledezma said. "Life is a gift and very precious, so please remember accidents happen, but your seatbelt will save your life."

She and her husband have dedicated their lives to spreading the word about how precious the gift of life is, and the importance of wearing seatbelts.Their mission includes motivational speaking to school groups and organizations.

They next will speak Wednesday, March 27, at a Seatbelt Awareness Night hosted by Geneseo High School Baseball Boosters.

For information or to schedule a presentation, contact them online at ledezma05@aol.com or visit their website, tylerledezmamemorialcom.

The message is "for kids, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles … anyone old enough to get into a vehicle and put their own seatbelt on," she said.

"My mission is to find the strength to get out of bed every day by remembering my son Tyler, and drawing strength from him to be able to teach the importance of wearing a seatbelt every time you get into a vehicle," she said. "No family -- brother, sister, parent, mother -- should have to feel the pain I feel every day for something that could have been avoided. I lost my baby and a part of me died that horrible day because he forgot to put his seatbelt on."

She and her family began this outreach after their youngest son, Taner Ledezma, approached his parents after his brother's death.

"Taner wanted to do a memorial baseball tournament to remember his brother and his love for the game," Mrs. Ledezma said. "That got us thinking about giving scholarships in Tyler's name at area schools. I never wanted it to be about money, but rather a means of teaching. I want what we do to be about honoring Tyler's memory, and teaching kids about his mistake of forgetting to put his seatbelt on The scholarships at the area schools have led to me talking about the importance of wearing a seatbelt at all times."

Tyler Ledezmawas a pitcher on Alleman HIgh School's varsity baseball team.

Mrs. Ledezma sees the pain in the faces of her husband, son, and daughter, Courtney, every day, she said.

"It breaks my heart, so if I can take some of that pain away by knowing their son/brother is saving lives, then it's worth everything I go through to get in front of kids and adults to teach them the importance of wearing their seatbelts," she said.
"It takes everything in me to have the strength to get through it," she said, referring to the programs she gives. "I don't sleep; I am sick to my stomach before every talk as I relive that day over and over and it is still and always will be very painful for me."

She uses no notes, but speaks from her heart, she said. "I know the points I want to make and the message I want to get across."

IF YOU GO
What: Seatbelt Awareness Night.
When: Wednesday, March 27.
Where: Between baseball games of Geneseo vs. Orion at Stone Field in Richmond Hill Park. Sophomore game at 4 p.m., followed by varsity game.