Linda Gambardella is asking for a simple promise.
A promise to drive sober. To those who make that promise, the North Babylon woman is sending out bracelets to those who request them with the words "Make The Right Choice" and "Drive Sober for Dan" imprinted on them.
Dan was Gambardella's husband. He was killed in a drunk driving crash in 2011.
"Since my husband was killed, I just keep seeing it in the paper over and over again," Linda Gambardella said, speaking of DWI-related crashes, "so I basically thought of an idea that so far has seemed to go over quite well."
That is an understatement. Since launching "A Band For A Promise" last month, Gambardella has sent out 500 bracelets with another 2,300 sponsored and paid for on their way. She is hoping nearly 3,000 bands will be in circulation by the end of this week.
Gambardella said there's been interest in the bands from numerous groups from the North Babylon School District to defensive driving programs to bars that want to hand them out to designated drivers.
"I'm really trying to get the message out there because this is 100 percent preventable," she said of drunk driving crashes. "This just doesn't have to happen and it happens way too often."
Dan Gambardella was killed on his way to work on April 30, 2011 when the Kia he was a passenger in was sideswiped by a minivan on the Wantagh State Parkway. The Kia became airborne and struck a tree, killing Gambardella and the driver, Larry Scuteri, 49, of West Islip, instantly.
The minivan's driver, Oscar Ramirez, of Brentwood but living in the country illegally, pleaded guilty to driving drunk and was sentenced to five to 15 years in prison last year on aggravated vehicular homicide and manslaughter charges. Ramirez, who admitted to drinking nine beers before the fatal crash, will be deported to Guatemala upon his release from prison.
Dan Gambardella, who lived in North Babylon for more than 20 years and was a baseball coach for the North Babylon Youth League, left behind his wife and two children.
Linda Gambardella said she believes the response to 'A Band For A Promise' is coming as people are "finally tired" of seeing and reading about crashes that were totally preventable. And each time Gambardella sees another photo posted on the 'A Band For A Promise' Facebook page of someone wearing the band, she is hopeful that something positive can come out of something so tragic.
"It's really hard to put into words with everything that happened to me and my kids," she said when asked about the demand for the bands. "It's been devastating losing my husband and in such a manner, but it sort of gives me a little bit of peace every time I see it [the band being worn]."
Gambardella said she will never know how many people who ask for the bands will actually stick to the promise, but "even if half the people who say they promise actually do," she said, "that to me is a life saved."
How to obtain a band: