Since 2015, the Blue Datto Foundation has been dedicated to reducing the incidence and impact of road trauma in NSW, but now they have made the difficult decision to close.
A registered not-for-profit, Blue Datto was founded by the Vassallo family following the death of their son and brother, Philip Vassallo.
Phil, known locally as "the kid in the blue Datto", passed away in a crash in Penrith in July, 2014 at 17-years-old.
In the following years, the foundation worked tirelessly to educate over 25,000 students on the issue of road safety, with its in-school programs, as well as raising awareness within communities.
It's award winning program, Keeping Safe, better educated people on the impacts crashes have on not just those directly involved, but everyone around them.
At the Australian Road Safety Awards, Blue Datto won the 2017 School Program Award, 2018 Community Program Award and 2018 Outstanding Achievement Award, along with the 2018 Community Organisation of the Year at the Hawkesbury Australia Day Awards.
The foundation held numerous fundraising events throughout each year, including the Blue Dato Ball, the Murray Marathon Maniacs Team golf day, as well as attending local events, such as the Hawkesbury Show, to reach out to the community.
The foundation scaled back some of its operations at the end of June, 2021, no longer delivering in-class road safety programs and instead continuing to support individuals affected by road trauma and be available to share their personal story as guest speakers.
However, due to the immense pressures on the family from running Blue Datto, the Vassallo's made the tough decision to end the foundation.
Co-founder, Colleen Vassallo, said the impact of COVID-19, challenges getting into schools and the general pressures of running an organisation, such as funding, all contributed to the decision.
"It was just getting harder and harder and for 12 months, it was on our minds, because the stress was just so hard," she said.
"We felt we didn't want to let anyone down, but the stress was affecting my mental and physical health and I knew we could not do this any longer."
"It was our family organisation, that even handing it onto someone else, I just think that would have been really hard for us.
"After much discussion, it was decided to wind it down, but it was such a difficult decision to make, because we were so passionate about the cause and committed to it and we still really believe in the program"
The Blue Datto Foundation reached students and communities across all of NSW, from up in Byron Bay, down to Albury and all across Greater Sydney.
They wanted to talk directly with young people believing it was the best way to educate them and make them aware of the impacts and consequences of their decisions.
Ms Vassallo hopes that what the foundation had achieved remains in people's minds, with everyone continuing to have an open and honest discussion about road safety.
"It just doesn't affect themselves, but everyone around them on the road and off the road, and those consequences can last a lifetime, which our family and other families suffer from," she said.
"We don't want any other families to have to go through what we've been doing. We've spoken and met with so many other families, who have lost their children and loved ones and it's just devastating.
"That one small split second decision, just turns your life completely upside down."
Blue Datto had a lot of support behind it, not just from sponsors, ambassadors and the local community, but also with peer mentors who travelled around educating others.
Ms Vassallo said their program was a huge success because of their peer mentors and how much they gave of themselves to their work.
"They were so passionate about road safety and getting that message out there to the young ones," she said. "Getting the students to really think about their decisions and choices and how it affects other people, and just having a plan and knowing that driving is always risky ... but you can eliminate those risks
"That's what it was all about in our programs. It was good to be able to get out to different areas, different suburbs, and meeting a lot of enthusiastic students and teachers who really supported us in schools.
"Even Local, State & Federal Members of Parliament and staff members of parliament. It's been a huge undertaking and we've met so many wonderful and diverse people from different areas and different needs. That's something we'll always treasure."
Ms Vassallo and her family are thankful for the support they had received over the years from the community.
"Attending our events, donations, holding fundraising events, volunteering, following us on Facebook, taking our Keeping Safe program, the schools, voting for us ... just thank you so much," she said.
"Our family, a lot of Phil's friends, who knew him and just reaching out to us. Without their support, we wouldn't have been able to accomplish as much as we had.
"The impact we've had is all because of the community support and that, in turn, is helping everyone and saving lives in the community.
"So we just want to thank everyone for that and to keep safe."