‘Don’t drink and drive’: Signs near grounds of Friday’s Alan Jackson concert honor memory of Curt Wilson

Rock the South founder Shane Quick records a public service announcement Thursday afternoon for guests coming to Friday’s Alan Jackson drive-in concert. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Just ahead of Friday’s Alan Jackson drive-in concert at the Rock the South (RTS) venue at the intersection of County Roads 469 and 436, four signs appeared- one at each approach to the intersection- to warn concert guests, “Don’t drink and drive.” The signs are marked “In memory of Curt Wilson.” They were the idea of Curt’s mother Ashley Wilson, who lost her son to a drunk driver in 2017, and the result of the efforts of multiple benefactors, some of whom remain anonymous.

Ashley Wilson shared, “I have actually reached out to many people and never heard back, and then it was just like an answered prayer- just like God has done for me all my life- a friend actually reached out to me- it’s Willy and Camilla Hendrix- and they actually live on that road. 

“She was just going to get a yard sign- like a political sign- made to put in her yard before the Alan Jackson concert. She wanted to make sure I was OK with that, and I said, ‘Absolutely!’ And then I told her my vision: I had actually seen a sign similar to that on MADD’s (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) Facebook last year. So that’s where I got the idea, and that’s when I started researching how to get one made. I was expressing to her that I wanted to get a permanent sign, and I actually had thought about doing it on that road, since there’s going to be a lot of concerts there and people are drinking at those concerts, and then also on (County Road) 222 (where Curt Wilson died). She said, ‘Let me see what I can do.’ That was just two weeks ago, so she is on the ball!”

Camilla Hendrix told The Tribune, “My daughter Madelyn went to high school with Curt, and her little fellow that she dates all of the time was really, really good friends with Curt. They played baseball together. So we’ve known Ashley and her family years and years and years and years. You can still, to this day, ask Madelyn about Curt, and she can tell you about Curt, but she can’t do it without crying.

“I’m all about community involvement and the community concerts; I think that’s great, you know, I think it’s wonderful. But one of the biggest concerns we have is if you’re going to drive in in a car, you’re going to pay the cooler fee, who’s going to drive you home? 

“That and just knowing the impact that Curt had on everybody- we never knew anybody that didn’t love Curt- and Ashley has been kind enough to speak. I coordinate drug and alcohol classes for the State of Alabama, so as soon as Ashley was able to speak, felt like she could get up in front of a crowd and speak, she’s been coming and speaking to our classes about the importance, because one mistake can make an impact on so many people.

“She had mentioned that she would like to have signs made, and we live in such a wonderful community; I made a few phone calls and was lucky enough to find somebody that said, ‘Absolutely we can do that! What would you like for it to say?’ And I said, ‘Well, Ashley had an example. Here’s the example.’ And they took the example and were kind enough to make the signs, and here we are. We live in a community that’s willing to pay it forward and make things like this happen.”

For Hendrix, the strategy behind the placement of the signs is simple: “You cannot get into the Rock the South venue without seeing one of those signs.”

She added her goal: “If it stops just one person, just makes one person stop and say, ‘You know what? I don’t need to drive home, I need to find somebody to drive me home’ or ‘I need to call somebody,’ or stay put or find a different way, if it just makes them stop and not attempt to drive home, then it’s worth it. One person at a time; if it can stop one person at a time, we can make a difference.”

Hendrix did not reveal the name of the people who manufactured and placed the signs, as they wish to remain anonymous.

Wilson talked about what the signs mean to her: “My two main goals is to keep Curt’s memory alive and to get the awareness, and hopefully, a stop to driving under the influence. It might seem like small steps to people, but to me this is a huge victory, because if it just saves one life, if it makes one person think about driving under the influence, then it has served its purpose, and I’m very thankful for that.  I’m thankful for the Hendrixes, because I don’t think that sign would be there without them, because I’ve tried for about six or seven months now. They got it done in two weeks! I appreciate them, and the sign gave me a much-needed smile today.”

For Friday evening’s concert guests, Wilson added, “Have a wonderful time; enjoy the concert, but be responsible. There are so many options out there; you know, we have Uber, taxis, everyone has a family or friend that loves them enough to come pick them up. If not, message me on Facebook. I will get in my car and I will pick up anyone, because it’s not worth the risk. No one deserves to live in the pain that I do every day of my life. Anything I can do to prevent that from another mother suffering, I will be there and I will do it.”

On Thursday afternoon, Shane Quick of Premier Productions and Rock the South, at the concert venue for a media briefing, took the opportunity to visit one of the signs with The Tribune and record a public service announcement for guests coming to see Alan Jackson Friday evening: “Just giving everybody a reminder to drink responsibly. Do not drink and drive. If you plan to drink at the Alan Jackson concert on Friday night, make sure to bring a designated driver. In memory of Curt Wilson, this beautiful sign here, right here on the Rock the South property, just reminds you: do not drink and drive. And if you do decide to drink at this concert, make sure to bring a designated driver.”

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W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune

W.C. Mann