Kathey Webster has been trying to make triumph out of tragedy for the past 20 years.
On Oct. 2, 1993, a drunk driver killed her husband, Cpl. Michael E. Webster, while he was on duty with the Missouri State Highway Patrol. He was struck while standing next to a vehicle he had stopped.
The way she’s tried to help others through her husband’s death is through a blood drive, now in its second decade. The 20th Annual Corporal Michael E. Webster Memorial Blood Drive will be held today from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Troop A headquarters in Lee’s Summit, with associated drives at various locations around the Kansas City area.
In addition, this is the first year the blood drive is being taken statewide.
Kathey Webster said the drive has always been the perfect way to memorialize her husband. Webster was an advocate of blood donation and began donating in college.
Webster graduated from the highway patrol academy on May 11, 1984. He and Kathey got married the next day. Webster was assigned to Troop A in Lee’s Summit, and the couple moved to Blue Springs. They had two children, Alana and Michael Elliott Webster II, 26 and 21, respectively. Webster also had an older daughter, Tiffany, from a previous relationship. She’s now 34.
In 1993, Mothers Against Drunk Driving recognized Webster for his efforts in getting drunken drivers off the road.
“He was a pretty phenomenal man,” Kathey said.
A special thing about this year’s drive, Kathey said, is that the American Red Cross, Community Blood Center and Be The Match program are working together to memorialize an individual.
“None of those organizations have done one central blood drive for an individual before,” she said.
There are nearly 30 locations around Missouri this year, and she hopes the blood drive will go nationwide by 2018.
Sgt. Collin Stosberg, a highway patrol spokesman, said the blood drive brings awareness to alcohol-related crashes.
According to the patrol, 229 people died and 3,869 people were injured last year in Missouri crashes that involved drunk drivers.
“He arrested a lot of impaired drivers when he worked the road and now, 20 years later, we’re still talking about him, his memory and what he meant to the community,” Stosberg said. “We’re still saving lives by hosting this blood drive.”
The blood drive isn’t the only way Webster’s memory is staying alive. Jackson County residents might recognize Webster’s name from a stretch of U.S. 40 named after him.
In 1995, more than 10 miles of U.S. 40 winding through Independence, Lee’s Summit, Blue Springs and Grain Valley was renamed “Corporal Michael E. Webster Memorial Parkway.”
More information can be found on mewebster.org.