YORKTOWN — Conner Guido would have just attended his senior prom and getting ready for his high school graduation.
Hosted by Mosquito Joe of Hampton, the race will honor Conner and promote safe driving practices.
Conner was one of three Tabb High School teenagers who died in a tragic car accident on Oct. 26, 2019. Conner and his friends, Naile Tairov and Logan Koontz, were on their way back from the school’s homecoming dance that night.
Since then, Conner’s mother, Tammy Gweedo McGee, works each day to make sure no family has to experience the pain she has.
“Just because Conner’s not here anymore doesn’t mean I can’t continue to make sure people know who he was and the amazing personality that kid had,” she said. “I need to make sure that legacy continues and we prevent as many future tragedies as we can.”
After Conner’s death, Tammy began the Conner Gweedo Memorial Foundation. Funds from the foundation go toward educating upcoming teenage drivers and their parents on safe driving practices. The nonprofit also sponsors a scholarship for graduating high school seniors, which will soon be awarded for the second year.
Tammy also created the website, IfYouSeeSomethingSaySomething.org, which allows teenagers to anonymously report any concerns of unsafe driving, illegal activities, bullying and more without fear of retaliation.
These foundations will be promoted at Mosquito Joe Race Night, where Conner’s car will be featured right at the checkered flag entrance so that every guest coming in can see it.
Serving as a “mobile billboard,” Conner’s Chrystler 200 can often be seen driving around town as a constant reminder to promote safe driving. His car will pace the field a few laps prior to the race.
The event will feature raffle prizes and silent auction items, including a free spray from Mosquito Joe as well as future Langley Speedway admission tickets.
“I continue to be just overwhelmed at the generosity of people who didn’t even know me or Conner,” Tammy said. “Just the sheer number of people who want to participate and try to understand the tragedy we’ve been through and the loss that we have and to do something positive with it.“
Delegate Martha Mugler will also make pre-race remarks on Conner’s Law House Bill 1918, which will go into effect in July and will require that all state schools mandate a valid driver’s license to allow for a parking pass permit on school campuses.
It will also improve driver education programs by including instruction on the dangers of distracted driving and speeding.
But Tammy’s fight isn’t over.
Her next push is a statewide mandated parental involvement driver education program. There are currently six states that require parents to participate in an education program as part of their teens’ driver education and licensing process.
Tammy’s goal is to get this program passed in the entire Commonwealth of Virginia with the help of the delegates who signed and supported Conner’s Law.
She also gives presentations on the importance of safe driving, most recently speaking to around 20 teenagers with the Newport News Youth Commissioners, many of which have not received their driver’s license yet.
“People say I’m strong, and I’m not strong. I cry all day, every day,” she said. “But what I am is dedicated to making sure that no one forgets my son, that his life was not in vain, and that people member from his loss how to not let this happen again.”
As local high schoolers are excitedly taking pictures in their suits and gowns for their proms each weekend, Tammy can’t help but feel crushed that her son won’t get to experience that special night.
However, Conner’s friends from around the community will drive his car to proms and park them in high-visibility spots so that he can be remembered while also encouraging students to keep safe on the roads.
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Conner’s best friend, Justin Frick, drove the car to Tabb High’s prom this year, and his friend and former teammate, Matthew Petrie, drove it to York High School’s prom. Having the car parked outside of the proms was important to Tammy.
“As difficult as it is to see your son’s picture all over your car every day, it’s for a purpose,” she said. “And I go through that pain for that purpose, which is to advocate and teach kids.”
She hopes to be able to have it driven to more upcoming local proms.
Tammy said that Conner, who would have been 18, was well-liked by everybody who knew him.
“I’ve honestly never known anybody who didn’t like Conner,” she said. “He was very animated and very unique. I’m very privileged that the community has rallied behind us the way they have and that he has friends who want to help out in any way that they can.”
Tammy’s fight to bring awareness to the importance of safe teen driving will continue this weekend.
Mosquito Joe Race Night will begin at 7 p.m. Tammy hopes the event will honor Conner’s legacy and help save another teenage life.
“I miss him every second of every day, but I know that he’s worth being remembered, and so that does give me a drive and a passion,” she said. “I know he’s saved at least one teenager’s life and I know there’s going to be more lives saved because of him.”
For more information about the Conner Gweedo Memorial Foundation, visit here.
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