University Relations and Communications

Student group: designated drivers are true heroes

February 7, 2011



Darla Tyler-McSherry, Student Health Services, 657-2564
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — A student group at Montana State University Billings is looking for some college students to transform from mere mortals into heroes.


Heroes students at MSU Billings

And getting there doesn’t require bites from toxic spiders, exposure to radiation or travel into outer space. It only requires a signature, a promise and an interest in keeping their friends safe.


Through the “Ultimate Hero” program, the MSU Billings HEROES group is seeking legal-age students who are willing to pledge to be a designated driver for their friends who head out for a night of partying. Student leaders for HEROES — which stands for Health Educators Reaching Others & Encouraging Success — say they are tackling the college alcohol issue from a health and safety perspective, leaving supervision of bars and underage drinking issues to law enforcement.


“It’s OK to go out. We just want everyone to be safe about it,” said Debbie Cook, a junior from Washington, D.C., and  one of the leaders of HEROES.


As the Montana Legislature tackles several bills that deal with driving under the influence and stricter enforcement of the law, Cook and fellow students are putting their focus on keeping their friends safe. The HEROES group works on prevention efforts to help alleviate the problem of alcohol misuse and abuse at MSU Billings and promotes responsible decisions about drinking within the university community.  The “Ultimate Hero” program is part of that.


Dalton Emig-Wahrman, a freshman from Townsend, explained how easy it is.


Students simply sign a contract available at Petro Hall, Rimrock Hall, the Associated Students of Montana State University Billings office or Student Health Services office that demonstrates their willingness to be a designated driver for up to five friends on a night they plan to go out for drinks, he said. The “Ultimate Hero” gets a wristband that entitles them free sodas at various establishments in Billings.


Darla Tyler-McSherry, health educator at Student Health Services and HEROES advisor, said various establishments in Billings have been eager to get on board with the program. Those who agree to spot designated drivers with free sodas are Walker’s Grill, Hudson’s, The Red Door and Hooligans. Designated  drivers can also get some free snacks with their sodas at Tiny’s Tavern.


“We are very excited to partner with local establishments to address drinking and driving in our students,” Tyler-McSherry said.

For more information on the “Ultimate Hero” program, contact Tyler-McSherry at 657-2564 or find them on Facebook.


PHOTO ABOVE: Students Debbie Cook, left, and Dalton Emig-Wahrman, are leading an effort at MSU Billings to ensure more students take responsibility for getting their friends home safely after a night on the town. Through the Health Educators Reaching Others & Encouraging Success (HEROES) group at MSU Billings, legal-age students get an extra reward for being designated drivers for their friends.  The "Ultimate HERO" program has partnered with some local taverns to offer free sodas and snacks to the designated drivers. "It’s OK to go out. We just want everyone to be safe about it," Cook said.