St. Louis Designated Driver is a business which was started after the founder, Chad Ballenger, experienced a cruel and horrid incident of losing a close family member to the consequences of drunk driving. Here is the story told by Chad:
Back in November 2005, I found out my father had been murdered. I had just walked in to my mother's house; with the expectation of visiting my brother and her, when the phone unexpectedly rang. My brother answered the phone and heard my grandfather's somber voice on the other end. My grandfather was calling my mother to first inform her of my father's death, to then soften the blow once she told my brother & me; however my brother was the first to intercept the news. Slowly my grandfather began to speak as my brother listened intently. I could tell he was going to tell him something serious when my brother glared at me as he heard the news. At first I expected to hear how my grandmother was in worse condition or had unfortunately died, but I was floored as my brother calmly told me my father had just been murdered by a hit-&-run driver suspected of drunk driving. You can imagine how I felt. You can’t realize how a moment like this can affect you until it actually happens.
I thought to myself: “This only happens in the movies.” I had experienced death among my family members before, but to hear the man I looked up to, the man I respected, the man who I spent my life emulating was just taken away… was heart-breaking. My eyes began to well up with tears. We couldn’t even make it to listen to the rest of the call. The phone dropped out of my brother's hand as we saw our mother enter into the room.
She looked at us and knew we had just heard sad news. She saw her sons standing before her weeping. With the phone now dropped upon the floor, it was all too extreme for her to comprehend. She asked what was wrong. I could barely grasp a breath to tell her. I told her dad was dead.
We shared in a unique moment I will never forget. There we were, two brothers standing before each other, crying uncontrollably, to an experience we had no control over. I hugged him and felt the tears rolling down our faces. I could barely hear the busy signal now emitting from the phone.
Once my mother heard the news, the emotional moment deeply gripped her heart. Even after having been divorced by the man years ago, my mother stood with us and began to shed tears. You can picture the three of us holding one another, crying over the man we all loved.
After I composed myself, I began to make the dreaded calls to pass along the news. One by one, call by call, I cried and spoke of my father’s death. The hardest was calling my ex to speak to my daughter and tell her she no longer had a PaPa B. I tried to hurry through the list so I could grieve. The calls had to be made and I was the one who had to do it.
I grew up a lot that day. I knew I had responsibilities. I knew what was next. My family and I had a lot of unexpected errands to do in the next few days. One thing was to fly my father’s body from Florida to his hometown of Rochester, IN. Then we had to plan a funeral and proceed to take care of any loose ends where he had previously lived. It was hard… and we knew what was to come.
Once in Indiana, we met with my grandparents and family for the wake. The funeral procession was led through his small hometown out to the cemetery. As the casket arrived and the ceremony began, I could feel my throat began to swell. The tears began to roll as soon as I heard the 21 gun salute. I held my daughter close and began weeping into her dress. She patted me on my shoulder only understanding her daddy was sad.
After all was said and done, things finally resumed in our lives. However, not all was the same. Without the strong & disciplined influence of our father, my brother and I had to find other ways to cope with our loss. Unfortunately we each chose different ways to handle it.
My brother began to drink heavily resulting in a daily consumption of alcohol to relieve any depression. As time passed, the alcohol became the crutch, and I was only an older brother. Days go by I wish my father had never been murdered to curb my brother’s circumstances. Regardless, things eventually changed for the better.
I chose to handle the pain in a much different way. I started out by being my brother’s designated driver anytime we went out. I would find myself driving countless hours on multiple nights wanting only to do one thing… protect my little brother. I never realized or took into account the countless lives I was saving. I only wanted to protect my brother and make sure I didn’t lose him.
A little over a year passed when I came to the realization there was a need for designated drivers. Yes, I had heard the countless times in school about MADD, but you never listen. You never understand; until a loved one is ripped from your arms due to drunk driving!
I began researching the concept and seeing if there was any businesses providing such a service. After reviewing the opportunity at hand, I started A Designated Driver of St. Louis, LLC. I originally started it to simply give myself a little gas money driving my brother’s friends & co-workers around. I never knew I would later turn it into what it is today. My intention to this day is to provide a service to save lives.
After leaving my full-time career in the automotive industry, I chose to make this designated driving service my main focus. I examined my budget and reduced my expenses to a minimum. I sucked up my pride and moved in with family. I was determined to succeed and make sure this service gets noticed. I was on a mission!
I later renamed the company to St. Louis Designated Driver. I have challenged myself to examine every avenue to reach out and save lives. I have shared my services with many individuals, friends, and families. Now, I continue my mission by telling you.
Among my many goals in life, never would I have thought I would someday own a designated driving service. I came to realize, life throws you curve balls and it is up to you to take what you know and turn it into something positive.
I love saving lives. I love driving intoxicated individuals home because I know I am preventing you from losing a loved one. I personally thank you for using St. Louis Designated Driver and strengthening our growth as we strive to save lives.