Mother of UWSP student uses tragedy to help others - WFXS, MyFoxWausau - News and Weather for Wausau, WI

Mother of UWSP student uses tragedy to help others

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STEVENS POINT (WAOW) -

A mother is trying to use her tragedy to help others.

UWSP student Eric Duffey died last year while walking home alone. Now, his mother is telling her story in hopes it doesn't happen to anyone else.

"We cannot say his name without having a huge smile on our face because you immediately want to start laughing because he was such a joy to be around," said Duffey's mother, Joan.

In March of 2012, Duffey was found dead in the Wisconsin River. He disappeared after leaving a bar on his 21st birthday. Joan Duffey says she doesn't want to see a similar situation.

"We really need them to have each other's back, watch for each other," said Joan Duffey.

Joan's lecture is one part of the Bring a Buddy program. More than 100 students were there to hear her message.

"You're always responsible for your own actions. At the same time, we don't want you to have the regret of losing a friend from a tragic incident," said Joan Duffey.

Earlier this week, students handed out blue bracelets reminding students to never walk alone. It's a pledge thousands have made in memory of Duffey.

"It's really tragic, but to be able to make something so positive out of it really brings the campus together and really puts a positive spin on it," said Jenna Furger, a member of the UWSP student government association.

The final stage of the campaign will take place this weekend at Stevens Point bars. Bring a Buddy information will be printed on napkins and coasters at popular hangouts.

"If we even safe one life, this whole thing was worth it," said Furger.

"Eric's death has to do something good. It has to, or you're not going to make it through a situation. He was our only child, we are devastated. We can only cope through trying to help others," said Joan Duffey.

Organizers of the Bring a Buddy campaign don't want the cause to stop at UWSP. They say hopefully one day it will be at UW campuses across the state.

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