Seven years ago, Melody Richards’ daughter Danielle was a typical Bethel University student, living up all the exciting firsts of the freedom of college—setting her own schedules, challenging herself with tough classes, and balancing new and exciting social opportunities. Until it all came to a crashing end on May 16, 2008, when she made a horrible—and all too typical—mistake: Danielle died that night in a one-car crash in which alcohol was a factor. Crushed, Melody, her husband, and their son and surviving daughter channeled the grief, and in February self-published Collision with Joy, a tome about Melody’s Christianity-based journey through the coping process.
“The goal of writing the book is to provide hope,” she says.
In addition, she has given multiple talks to students as part of Mothers Against Drunk and Distracted Driving (to which the family donated Danielle’s twisted car all those years ago as an example for other teens to learn from); these include Heritage Christian Academy in Maple Grove (where her son is a senior this year), as well as Armstrong in Plymouth, Anoka and Wabasha high schools, and Grand Canyon and Bethel universities.
Melody Richards is a counselor, speaker and founder of Hope Renewed Counseling. She earned a masters of arts in industrial relations from the University of Minnesota and spent 20 years consulting corporations on leadership and organization development before the tragic loss of her oldest daughter. Through the grieving process, she “caught a vision for counseling,” as she puts it, and returned to earn her master of arts in counseling, a career she’s pursued ever since.