A tragedy that occurred 14 years ago that sparked a cultural change in Butte is now the inspiration for a new book.
“One October Night” is a book Leo McCarthy never wanted to write.
“It was a kaleidoscope of emotions: going back, reading the notes, and reliving it again,” said McCarthy.
It was hard reliving the night of October 27, 2007, when his 14-year-old daughter Mariah was killed after she and two of her friends were hit by a drunk driver while walking along Blacktail Lane.
“It was a trip that I didn’t really care to go back to, but by doing it, hopefully, we save one youth and maybe save a generation by doing it if someone reads it,” he said.
McCarthy wants the tragic story to resonate with hope.
“Hopefully, it was a legacy of love and not a monument to misery. If it was about hate, then that doesn’t heal. Vengeance is, I think, the soul’s vomit,” he said.
To cope with his daughter’s death, Leo McCarthy started Mariah’s Challenge. It's a scholarship program that challenged high school students in Butte to avoid drugs and alcohol, and never ride in a car with an impaired driver.
The program has given scholarships to more than 380 students in 13 years.
“It’s the only scholarship out there that’s not on academics or athletics. It’s about character, integrity, and honesty, which we need in this world,” said McCarthy.
Mariah will forever be 14, but when Leo McCarthy reflects on Mariah’s Challenge and his new book, he just has one request for every young person in this town.
“And the most of it is that … kids are going to grow old … that’s a big deal,” said McCarthy.
That’s what you want them to do.
“Grow old,” he said.