By Julie Garner, Project Yellow Light/Hunter Garner Scholarship


I once heard someone say that having a child is like having your heart outside of your body, in another person. I couldn’t agree more. It’s that amazing feeling of unconditional love. Losing a child is like having your heart ripped from your chest, thrown to the floor and decimated. It’s a mother’s definition of hell; in fact, it’s my own personal definition.


When my son, Hunter, was 16 years, 4 months and 23 days old, he was killed. Killed in a car crash at 16; my only son, my firstborn. I pretty much died that day, too.


Within days after Hunter’s death, it became clear that we had to do everything in our power to prevent other young people from meeting this same demise. So we started a scholarship at Hunter’s high school in his name, and tied it to the prevention of car crashes. As we worked on founding the scholarship, we discovered that car crashes are the #1 killer of our teens in the U.S. (and many countries across the globe.) Who knew? In the years since his death, it remains one of the primary causes of death of our youth. We also realized that we’d have to shake things up a bit if we were going to be effective. Historically, we’ve always tried warning our youngest drivers about staying safe on the road, but too often the warnings have fallen on deaf ears.


It was critical that we engage youth to make their voices heard; giving them ownership of this horrific problem. We wanted to see what they could do to make a difference.


Project Yellow Light/Hunter Garner Scholarship was born. It is a different approach. It’s not the voice of authority; it’s the voices of youth themselves, communicating peer to peer in a sincere, honest way. Student applicants create PSAs in radio, video or billboard design format to warn each other of the dangers of distracted driving; specifically texting while driving.


Young people have a unique ability to reach one another in a way that adults cannot.  And we’re convinced that they will pave the way to making positive change on distracted driving.


Project Yellow Light – giving young people a stage to make a difference and save lives.



Here’s how it works:


The three contests include a video competition, a billboard design competition and a radio competition. All three are focused on communicating the dangers of distracted driving, primarily texting while driving. We have amazing partners that have helped propel this project forward: Ad Council, Apparent Insurance, AT&T’s It Can Wait, Clear Channel Outdoor, Elephant Insurance,  iHeartRadio, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and NOYS.


This year we are delighted to partner with our friends at Fresh Green Light!


Here’s how you get involved:


Choose one (or ALL!) of the competitions:

  • Video competition: You can video yourself, a group of people, make a cartoon; whatever moves you. Just make sure it’s in good taste.
  • Billboard Design competition: Create a design to warn your peers about the dangers of texting and driving.
  • Radio competition: We want to see your personal expression come through in your recording. Think of ways to capture the attention of your peers and clearly express your message in a radio ad. Be sure it’s in good taste.


Get creative, follow the guidelines and specs on our website, and get your submission turned in by the deadline. It’s really that simple.


Oh right! Prizes!


Each category includes one or more prizes:


  • Video competition: High School & College Prizes: 1st: $8,000. In addition to a scholarship, the winning video for both high school and college will be turned into an Ad Council PSA and distributed nationally to 1,600 TV stations.
  • Billboard design competition: High School & College Prizes: 1st: $2,000. In addition to the scholarship, the winning designs will be placed on billboards across the country, courtesy of Clear Channel Outdoor.
  • Radio competition: High School & College Prizes: 1st: $2,000. In addition to the scholarship, the winning entries will be turned into an Ad Council PSA and aired across the country courtesy of iHeartRadio.


Deadlines (those rude, annoying things):


These are hard deadlines. Late submissions will not be accepted. You’ve got plenty of time if you get started today!




Help keep yourself and your friends safe. Protect the hearts of your parents. Create a video, billboard, or radio advertisement and spread the word that no distraction is worth a life.


From the bottom of my heart, thank you for getting involved in the fight to end distracted driving. Let’s go save some lives!


Visit to read Hunter’s story and see the full list of requirements for each competition.

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