ThinkFirst Achievements

Congratulations to Chad Burton for receiving the Tempe Humphrey Award at the 2022 Missouri Highway Safety Conference in Columbia.

Congratulations to Penny Lorenz Anderson for receiving an appreciation plaque for her 37 years of service to ThinkFirst MO.

ThinkFirst Missouri Receives 2022 Outstanding Community Involvement Award

ThinkFirst Missouri was recently recognized at the 2022 Outstanding Community Involvement Award winner at the 2022 National ThinkFIrst Conference held May 12-13, 2022.

This award recognizes a chapter for conducting an especially creative ThinkFirst initiative at the community level within the past five years (2017-2022).

Russ Burris Named 2019 Speaker of the Year

Russ Burris

On June 3rd, 1990, Russ Burris fell asleep at the wheel only 90 seconds from home. Not wearing his seatbelt, he was ejected and paralyzed instantly. Russ began working for ThinkFirst Missouri and ThinkFirst of the Ozarks in 1992, traveling to hundreds of schools and businesses statewide. The National Sleep Foundation learned about Russ’s work with ThinkFirst and recruited him to become a national spokesperson on the issue of drowsy driving. In addition, the National Road Safety Foundation featured Russ in the award-winning drowsy driving prevention video titled, “Almost Home.” Russ has traveled to Washington DC to speak on behalf of the issue of drowsy driving and was featured on a panel discussion aired on C-SPAN. Russ’s prevention work has been featured in the Washington Post, Ladies Home Journal, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Parade Magazine, the T.V. show, “Extra-NBC New York,” and numerous additional outlets. Russ contributes his expertise beyond the classroom by testifying at traffic safety legislative hearings at the Missouri State Capitol.

ThinkFirst MO Receives 2019 Chapter of the Year Award

ThinkFirst MO MG Award 2019

ThinkFirst Missouri, University of Missouri School of Medicine, Columbia, MO ThinkFirst Medical Director and neurosurgeon, Dr. Clark Watts, established ThinkFirst Missouri in 1979 as part of a federal research and demonstration grant awarded to the University of Missouri School of Medicine. Since then, Think- First Missouri has become a well-known, trusted provider of injury prevention education in Missouri. It has a demonstrated track record of providing excellent programs and outstanding service to schools, worksites, parents and community organizations, reaching approximately 25,000 people each year. In addition to its robust program delivery effort, this chapter conducts program research, is involved with statewide public policy efforts, and active on the national level. ThinkFirst Missouri is one of the two founding chapters of the ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation. In 2019, ThinkFirst Missouri will celebrate its 40th anniversary as a ThinkFirst chapter (1979-2019).

ThinkFirst MO Receives 2018 Outstanding Research Award

Graduated Driver License POSTER
Pictured: Graduated Driver License (GDL) education program Poster

Outstanding Research Award ThinkFirst Missouri-University of Missouri School of Medicine, Columbia, MO First Impact is a 90-minute evidence-based Graduated Driver License (GDL) education program for parents of new drivers. A study was conducted to evaluate the understanding of key components of the Missouri GDL law before and after receiving the First Impact program. Pre- and post-test surveys were conducted among 690 participants during a 12-month period. Statistical analysis indicated First Impact was a promising intervention to increase the understanding of the GDL law in Missouri.

Lorenz-Anderson Receives Tempe Humphrey Award

Penny Lorenz-Anderson, assistant director with the ThinkFirst Missouri program

The statewide Tempe Humphrey Award was presented to Penny Lorenz-Anderson, assistant director with the ThinkFirst Missouri program. This award recognizes an individual or group who has made a significant impact in the area of youth or teen safety. It was named for a former Division of Highway Safety employee who created and implemented the statewide Team Spirit program to engage high school students in the process of safe driving. Tempe was killed in 2006 in a motorcycle crash. As an unbelted teen who survived a car crash, Lorenz-Anderson was left with a spinal cord injury that paralyzed her from the waist down. She has been in her position for 33 years, and it is clear for many who have heard one of the presentations she has given, she cares about young people and making the right choices when it comes to safe driving.

ThinkFirst Receives Outstanding Partnership Award at the 2014 Missouri Blueprint Safety Conference

Blueprint Safety Conference

September 30, 2014

ThinkFirst Missouri received an Outstanding Partnership Award at the 2014 Missouri Blueprint Safety Conference, held in St. Louis, MO on September 30, 2014. ThinkFirst Missouri along with KRCG and Joe Machens Ford completed a “Focus on the Road” campaign. Throughout this campaign, over 10,000 Missourians pledged to drive distraction free. Partnership is the driving force behind the success of highway safety efforts. Michelle Gibler, ThinkFirst Missouri Director served as co-chair on the 2014 Blueprint Coalition Committee.

ThinkFirst Receives 2013 Research Award at National Injury Prevention Conference

2013 research award
Pictured: Michelle Gibler

April 24, 2013

ThinkFirst Missouri received the 2013 Research Award from the ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation on April 24, 2013. The award was presented during a ceremony at the ThinkFirst Conference on Injury Prevention held in conjunction with the American Association of Neurological Surgeons annual meeting in New Orleans.

The ThinkFirst research team was honored for three recent studies:

  • The Underutilization of Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities for ThinkFirst Traumatic Injury Prevention Programs
  • Using Social Media to Reinforce ThinkFirst For Teens
  • ThinkFirst Injury Prevention and Social Media: What Type of Facebook Content Generates the Most Interaction?

ThinkFirst Missouri is a traumatic injury prevention program of the University of Missouri School of Medicine, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (PMR).

PMR injury prevention research team members include: Michelle Gibler, PhD., Fred Murdock, PhD., J. Wesley Rayburn, MD, James Whitaker, DO, Katrina Rowland, BS, and Caitlin Davis, BJ.

ThinkFirst plays key role in Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety (MCRS) Conference

TF Missouri team receives award
ThinkFirst Missouri team receiving the 2012 Central Region Show-Me Safety Award. Pictured: (L to R) Russ Burris, Lori Popejoy, MoDOT Highway Safety Director Leanna Depue, Michelle Gibler, Penny Lorenz, Chad Burton and Katrina Rowland

December 3, 2012

ThinkFirst staff members across the state participated in the 2012 MCRS Conference in Branson, Oct 24-26th. The purpose of the conference was to launch the new statewide fatality reduction goal and arm traffic safety advocates and leaders with strategies to reach the new goal. Traffic fatalities in Missouri have been steadily decreasing since the inception of the MCRS. In 2005, Missouri experienced 1,257 fatalities. In 2011, fatalities were reduced to 784 thanks, in part, to the combined effort and intense focus of hundreds of MCRS members. The new goal is 700 or fewer traffic deaths by 2016. Twelve ThinkFirst staff members and volunteers statewide assumed multiple roles of leadership during the conference, including conference planning, delivering presentations, facilitating sessions, and receiving three awards.

Popejoy receives Missouri Show-Me Safety Award
ThinkFirst advocate & speaker Dr. Lori Popejoy receiving Missouri Show-Me Safety Award. (L to R) Sid Popejoy, Lori Popejoy and MoDOT Highway Safety Director Leanna Depue


Co-Directors receiving 2012 KC Region Show-Me Safety Award
ThinkFirst of Greater Kansas City Co-Directors receiving 2012 KC Region Show-Me Safety Award

ThinkFirst Missouri Receives Two Silver Medal Awards

Michelle Gibler and Marcia Howell
Pictured: Michelle Gibler, Marcia Howell

October 1-4, 2012

ThinkFirst Missouri received two Silver Medal awards from the International Safety Media Award (ISMA) Committee. ISMA is a competitive international awards program designed to recognize the strongest, evidence-based injury prevention media campaigns in the world. ThinkFirst is being honored for its Social Media Campaign for Teens. First award was for the Teen Injury Prevention Campaign and second award was for the Teen Media Campaign Evaluation. Dr. Michelle Gibler, Director of the ThinkFirst Missouri Prevention Program in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, attended the 11th World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion held in Wellington, New Zealand, on October 1-4, 2012. Marcia Howell, Director of International Safety Media Awards program, from Alaska is pictured with Michelle Gibler.

Public Speaking Training Workshop for VIP Speakers

public speaking training workshop
Pictured: Group Photo

June, 2012

ThinkFirst Missouri recently conducted a public speaking training workshop for Voices for Injury Prevention speakers statewide. The workshop featured dynamic expertise presentations from Joel Maruniak, PhD, Associate Professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Department of Biological Sciences on How the Brain Works and Dr. Michal Acuff, MD, Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Department of Physical, Medicine and Rehabilitation on Living Well with a Disability. The workshop also included a memorable testimony from Jim Dejong, Director with Americans with Disabilities Act followed by guided discussion and small group exercises. The primary sponsor of the event was the Missouri Department of Transportation, Highway Safety Division. Additional support was provided by The Department of Physical, Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Missouri.

ThinkFirst of Greater Kansas City Receives KDOT's People Saving People Award

People Saving People award
Pictured: Pete Bodyk, Kansas Department of Transportation; Cynthia Randazzo, ThinkFirst KC; Michael Bowen, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA); Rose Simone, ThinkFirst KC; Romell Cooks, Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA.)

May 5, 2011

ThinkFirst of Greater Kansas City received the People Saving People Award from the Kansas Department of Transportation for the impact it has made educating young people about safety belt usage and safe driving practices in the hopes of preventing them from suffering a traumatic injury, or worse, as the result of a motor-vehicle crash.

During the 17th annual Kansas Transportation Safety Conference in Wichita, eight Voices for Injury Prevention (VIP) speakers, all with disabling injuries, were recognized for their efforts of taking their stories and lessons learned to thousands of young people annually across the Kansas City metropolitan area through school assemblies and other venues.

“Our VIP speakers range in age from 18 to 30,” said Cynthia Randazzo, president, The Research Foundation. “Who better to convince young people of the importance of seat belts, attentive driving, not driving under the influence, not speeding than someone who has to live daily with the mistake they or someone else has made behind the wheel. They truly are ‘people saving people’ in the literal sense, and winning this award is a wonderful way to honor and thank them for their contributions to injury prevention in the community.”

The People Saving People Award is open for the nomination of any individual, organization, and/or program – in or out of the state – that has had an exemplary effect on Kansas transportation safety in one of the following three ways: community leadership and engineering; education and awareness; or adjudication, enforcement and EMS response.

Chad Burton, 2011 VIP Speaker of the Year

Chad Burton
Pictured: Chad Burton

April, 2011

ThinkFirst Missouri speaker, Chad Burton, wins National ThinkFirst Injury Prevention Foundation 2011 VIP Speaker of the Year Award. (VIP-Voices for Injury Prevention)

ThinkFirst Publishes Research Poster on Using Social Media to Reinforce

research poster
Pictured: Social Media Research Poster

March, 2011

ThinkFirst publishes research poster on Using Social Media to Reinforce ThinkFirst for Teens.

ThinkFirst Missouri Receives Proclamation from Governor

TF Missouri 30th anniversary proclamation ceremony
Pictured: ThinkFirst Missouri 30th Anniversary Proclamation Ceremony (L-R): Carrie Wolken, Antoinne Jones, Rose Simone, Emily Bailey, Penny Lorenz, Mike Dawson, EMT-P, Michelle Gibler, PhD, Gov. Jay Nixon, Jennifer Blair, Cynthia Randazzo, Chad Burton, Russ Burris, Jeff Sanders, and Kayle Denny.

June 23, 2010

ThinkFirst Missouri received a congratulatory proclamation from Missouri Governor Jay Nixon during a special presentation June 23, 2010 in the Governor’s Office at the State Capitol in Jefferson City. Governor Nixon honored ThinkFirst for conducting outstanding injury prevention and traffic safety programs in Missouri for 30 years.

When recognizing ThinkFirst, Governor Nixon cited the importance of the mission of injury prevention and noted the impressive number of people served by the Missouri-based chapter. Since the first high school program was delivered in the spring of 1980, ThinkFirst Missouri has conducted injury prevention presentations in 1,914 schools reaching over 503,022 students. With the addition of business and community presentations, ThinkFirst has delivered 3,056 presentations reaching over 582,989 Missourians.

ThinkFirst Missouri Launches State-of-the-Art Social Media Campaign for Young Drivers

Fan us at

October, 2009

In October 2009, ThinkFirst introduced two exciting digital media platforms for teens and young adults — Facebook and SMS/Text Messaging. Pure Marketing and Media, of Columbia, MO, provided the strategic, creative, and technological services needed to develop the intervention.

The goal of the campaign is to promote traffic safety among teens. The digital platforms will engage teen audiences through discussion threads, video clips, photos from school programs, etc. Content will be modified and monitored regularly and user participation will be tracked.
The ThinkFirst Missouri Social Media campaign is the first of its kind in the United States and will serve as a pilot program for over 100 ThinkFirst chapters nationwide. 

This project is supported by Federal Highway Funds from the Missouri Department of Transportation.