An officer receives his Alexa’s Team ball cap from a Glenlyon Norfolk School student where the event was held. (Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

WATCH: Officers recognized at 10th anniversary of anti-impaired driving program

Alexa’s Team has grown from 26 members in 2008 to the current 2,400

Police officers from around B.C. were in Oak Bay Wednesday to honour and be honoured on the 10-year anniversary of Alexa’s Team.

Formed in 2008 after 4-year-old Alexa Middelaer was killed by an impaired driver, Alexa’s Team is an anti-impaired driving program to recognize dedicated police officers who are committed to reducing the number of impaired drivers on the road.

Police officers are named to Alexa’s Team if they remove at least 12 impaired drivers a year from the road.

“You have been the change we hoped to see,” said Alexa’s mother Laurel Middelaer to the officers in attendance. “You have helped us heal. Enabled us to see what’s possible. And we have leaned into your strength more than you will ever know.”

Stories weaving friendship and service were shared during the ceremony, with one in particular leaving eyes misty.

When Alexa was little she attended a Montessori school in White Rock. She spoke often of her little friend Brenna and how they loved to pretend they were horses, running around the school yard and grooming each other. Laurel and her husband Michael Middelaer never had a chance to meet Brenna before Alexa’s death and never understood the depth of the relationship until later.

After the collision that killed Alexa, Victim Services called the Middelaers asking if they wanted anything from the collision scene.

“Honestly, we didn’t want anything from that collision scene,” said Laurel Middelaer.

But Victim Services kept calling, eventually telling them there had been a “horsie backpack” in a gift bag that was at the scene. The Middelaers had no idea what it was and it wasn’t until Michael’s parents had recovered enough from the collision that they told them – Alexa had purchased the backpack for her friend Brenna just before the collision.

“This to us, as parents, was the first tangible sign of friendship we had seen Alexa display. Purchasing a gift for her friend,” said Laurel Middelaer.

So they packaged up the backpack and gave it to Brenna. It turned out that Brenna’s parents were RCMP officers and a bond was formed for life.

Shortly after Alexa’s passing, Brenna entered a contest for the new foals for the RCMP Musical Ride. There is an alphabetical naming system for the foals, and that year the letter was “F”. Brenna won the contest writing an impassioned letter about her best friend Alexa.

Born June 9, 2008, in memory of Alexa Middelaer, is a foal named Friend.

Laurel Middelaer used this story to talk about the importance and power of friendship, and to tell the officers in Alexa’s Team that she considers them all friends.

“To our dear friends, members of Alexa’s Team, we thank you for your connection to us, for rallying around us to honour our wee girl,” said Laurel Middelaer. “We feel you have honoured her story and brought change with that story.”

Since its inception, Alexa’s Team members have processed 86,534 sanctions for alcohol and drug related driving offences. The team has grown from 26 members in 2008 to the current 2,400.


 

keri.coles@oakbaynews.com

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Oak Bay Deputy Chief Ray Bernoties with Const. Mike Klein-Beekman. Const. Const.Eric Thompson was unable to attend the event. (Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

Alexa’s parents Laurel and Michael Middelaer hug Alexa’s Team members. Police officers are named to Alexa’s Team if they remove at least 12 drivers a year from the road who are impaired by drugs or alcohol. (Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

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