Becoming a father was the greatest moment in Marcus Kowal’s life. “When my baby Liam was born on the 25th of May, 2015, it was the happiest day of my life. Nothing compared to becoming a father.”

But on Sept. 3, 2016, the MMA fighter’s life changed forever. “We lost our son to the hands of a drunk driver,” he recalls, “It wasn't a criminal. It wasn't a thug. It was a 72-year-old woman with no prior arrests.”

The legacy of pain

He doesn’t have a grudge against the woman who killed his son, but he wants her to see the consequences of her actions. “I want to tell her that I am not angry at her,” says Kowal, “I do not feel any hatred towards her. However, I want her to feel our pain. I want her to look me in the eyes and see what her reckless decision that day has caused.”

Though devastated, Kowal and his wife saw the opportunity to use their tragedy as a message to help end drunk driving once and for all. “We had our son's funeral on a Monday,” he says, “Tuesday morning, at 6 a.m., we met with a lawyer to set up our non-profit, Liam’s Life, to carry on his legacy.”

“There needs to be a change in the social attitude towards drinking and driving. It is not okay. Ever.“

Changing the culture

As part of his mission, Kowal has also become a powerful advocate for Mothers Against Drunk Driving in an effort to change what he sees as a too-lenient culture.

Kowal notes that while his home country of Sweden has a zero tolerance culture towards drunk drivers, Americans are unfortunately more comfortable getting behind the wheel. “There needs to be a change in the social attitude towards drinking and driving. It is not okay. Ever.“

Kowal implores all of us to make better decisions. “I beg of you to not be that person,” he says, “to not let your friend or family member be that person.” He urges everyone to stop senseless tragedies by understanding the ignorant choice you make when you drink and drive. “This isn't brain surgery. If you can afford to buy drinks at a bar, you can afford a taxi.”

Finally, Kowal says that despite the pain, it’s been inspiring to see the world come together to support him and his mission. “As much pain as we are in at the moment, to see the world come together and support us has been amazing — to see that our little baby's tragic death has had such an impact.”