Marathon Co. Real Heroes: Youth Heroes - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Marathon Co. Real Heroes: Youth Heroes

by Pam Warnke

MARATHON COUNTY (WAOW)--  The loss of Lacey Meinel to a drunk driver in January 2009 devastated the community.  The vibrant, young girl-a spark put out by Daniel Schaefer.  The Fond Du Lac man got behind the wheel after too much to drink.  Schaefer's now serving five years in prison for killing the 14-year-old and hurting her mother.

Meinel's death jump started Lexi Zuleger and Zack Pagel's mission to toughen drunk driving legislation in the state.  Lexi wanted a change.

Zuleger said, "I wanted to try to get Daniel Schaefer a stiffer sentence for what he had done."

Zach had the tactics to accomplish the goal.

"There's petition websites out there, and you can just take what we had on the hard copy of the petition and put it into the website.  That gets people from all around the world, like Yugoslavia and Latvia, just all sorts of countries.  They pass it on to others with social media sites, and that's how it really gets going." said Pagel.

After months of work, and with the backing of many, they head to Madison hoping to get the support of state lawmakers and the governor.

"Lucky for us we got to actually meet him and give it to him first hand," said Zuleger.

Changes to drunk driving laws went into effect at the beginning of the year.  They aren't exactly what the pair was hoping for, but it's enough for now.

"I'm not done. I don't think Zach's done either.  We're not done," Zuleger said.

As Red Cross Heroes this 2010 they respect the recognition, but realize the loss behind it.  That makes it even clearer why they deserve this year's Youth Heroes award.

Pagel said, "Obviously, we wouldn't like to be in this position.  We'd like to have Lacey here, but I think we took her tragedy and are turning it into the most positive thing that could be taken out of it."

"I am honored to win the award, but I would obviously give it back to be able to see Lacey skate and for Mr. and Mrs. Meinel to be able to hug and smile at their daughter one more time," Zuleger said.

Online Reporter: Pam Warnke


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