The sister of a man killed in a crash involving a suspected impaired driver has launched a T-shirt campaign for graduating students during the COVID-19 pandemic to raise money and send a message about the dangers of being intoxicated behind the wheel.
Carla Mawyin’s brother, Paul Brizzi, died in August 2019. Police said the 39-year-old was driving on Highway 401 near Keele Street at around 4:30 p.m. when another vehicle came into contact with his car and caused it to hit the concrete barrier.
Mawyin told CTV News Toronto Sunday she always wanted to do something special to honour her bother. She said the pandemic brought on strong feelings about his loss.
“I was just missing Paul so so much and really missing him these days,” Mawyin said. “It’s been really really tough on me.”
Mawyin’s 17-year-old daughter, Isabella, is graduating high school this year and, after learning about a T-shirt campaign in Alberta raising money for a food bank, she decided she would do a similar drive with funds going to Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada.
The T-shirts say ‘Senior Class of 2020. The one where they were quarantined,’ and includes graphics of a graduation cap, mask and the MADD Canada logo. Images of toilet paper rolls make the zeros in 2020 on the T-shirt.
Mawyin said her brother was funny and always knew how to put things that went wrong into perspective. She said he was also very close to his nieces and nephews and would have been proud to see Isabella graduate.
“Honesty, I love the idea and I love the message behind it too,” Isabella said. “These T-shirts, they kind of send out a message that even if we don’t get a proper graduation, a proper prom, at least we have each other and we are still graduating, going off to post-secondary. It’s an exciting moment.”
Each T-shirt costs $25 and $5 dollars from each sale is going to MADD Canada for its awareness programs and to support families, Mawyin said.
“People ask me all the time, ‘did Paul have kids?’ I said ‘yeah, he had five kids, my three kids and my brother’s two kids.’ He was like fun dad to them,” she said.
“We’re not able to celebrate anything, at all. All of our happy moments are lost because everything we did, we did with us,” she said.
“I can’t let him die in vain. Paul was my baby brother. We were super close.”
“I want to make a lot of noise. I want this message to go far. It is not okay to drive impaired. Devastating families is not okay,” Mawyin said.