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Kelsey's Story

The KDR Challenge was created in memory of Kelsey Dawn Raffaele. KDR stands for Kids Driving Responsibly. And just happen to be Kelsey's initials, Kelsey Dawn Raffaele.  It is a 501c3 Non-Profit organization. 


Kelsey was killed in an automobile accident on January 24, 2010. She was just 17 years old. Several weeks after the accident, it was discovered that Kelsey had been talking on the phone as she went out to pass a slower moving car. Kelsey’s mom and Dad travel around Michigan telling Kelsey’s story to high school and college students. The goal of the challenge is to save lives. Green Wrist Bands are given to the students that pledge to take The KDR Challenge.  (Not use their phone while driving)

Kelsey was a twin. Her sister Courtney and her were "BFF". They did almost everything together. When they were little, they used to talk in this "twin" language. No one could understand what they were saying, except them. They would sit there and carry on a conversation for a long time. Kelsey looked after Courtney. No body wanted to hurt Court because Kel would give them the what for. She was very protective of her sister.


Kelsey loved her dad. She called him her "Best Friend". She got a kick out of teasing him all the time and having her mom take pictures of them when he didn't know it. She loved her mom. Called her "The Boss". She would come and jump into bed with her mom and hug on her for no reason. Just because she wanted to. She had the BEST hugs in the whole wide world.


Friends meant the world to Kelsey. She had two of her friends pass away in the year 2007. Brett, died of cancer in February that year and the end of July, Chucky drowned while swimming in the lake. This devastated Kelsey so much. She was determined to keep their memory alive. And, that she did. From making beaded bracelets that have their names on it to walking the Relay for Life in memory of Brett.


After Kelsey passed, we found several little messages she left around the house. Writings on walls that we never knew were there. Notes in the middle of a notebook that you one day just turned to it and there it was. In some of her writings she talks about how she is ready to go to Heaven when God is ready to take her. As a mother, this has to be one of the greatest gifts a child can leave behind. A note saying "I am going to be with God". And at 17 years old, most children wouldn't even be thinking that. With the death of her friends, it put life into perspective for Kelsey. She grew up fast and knew she was going to be able to see her friends again.

Kelsey was a beautiful young lady. She was loved so much by so many. We didn't realize how many friends she had until she passed away. Over a thousand people attended her wake and funeral. Kelsey would sit home on a Friday night and when asked why she wasn't with her friends she would always say "I don't have any friends". I can't wait to see her in Heaven and scold her for saying that. I met all of her friends. All 1000+ friends.


Kelsey loved to have her picture taken. I had the honor of taking Kelsey's and her sisters senior pictures the summer before she died.  What a great summer we had.  Traveling to the beach and other locations to take Courtney and Kelsey's pictures.

Oh how I wish you could have met her.  She would of been your best friend.  She had a heart bigger then this world.  

From  a mother that has lost a child from Distracted Driving, I ask you all, please don't drive distracted.  Nothing is worth losing your life or taking someone else's life.


On April 22, 2019 Kelsey's best friend Stacey, who was following Kelsey the day Kelsey was in the crash and died, passed away in a car crash. 

Stacey and Kelsey were inseparable. BFF forever.  

It breaks our heart that Stacey left this earth way to young like Kel.  But it gives us comfort that they, the BFF'S, are back together again in Heaven.  

The community is grieving once again but as we proved 9 years ago, we can get through this with God's help.  

Romans 8:28 NIV
"We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose"

I miss you Kel and Stacey.  To the moon and back..

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