Music festival promotes driving safety in late teen’s name


Makenzie’s Dream Fest honors Makenzie Leikam, 19, who died in a car crash in 2013. Donations from the event provide crash avoidance classes for young drivers.

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Before 19-year-old Makenzie Leikam left for the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in 2013, she hugged her parents Natalie and Dave Leikam goodbye and told them her life’s mission. 

“I said, ‘Hey, what do you want to do with your life?’ She said, ‘I think I got it, Dad. I think I want to have my own music festival,'” said Dave. 

Ten years ago in June, Makenzie died driving back home from the Western Slope. 

“The state trooper that investigated the accident… he said after the autopsy and everything that drugs and alcohol didn’t do it,” said Dave. “He seriously thinks she got tired, fell asleep, overcorrected and ended up rolling the car.” 

Her parents haven’t forgotten her dream.

“Today is her 30th birthday,” said Dave. “She’s going to get her wish.”

Makenzie’s friends, family, and community haven’t forgotten either. They’re all in the crowd or performing on stage. 

“She touched everyone’s life, she thought of everyone first before herself,” said Natalie. “Just shared all of her love, always.”

Makenzie’s Dream Fest embodies her spirit by spreading love and joy through music. 

But, it also has another purpose, helping to educate teens on driving safety. 

“If we can save one kid’s life, it’s all worth it,” said Dave. 

Dave is a firefighter. He and Natalie have partnered with the South Metro Safety Foundation to provide crash avoidance classes to teens. 

“For every kid we sponsor, they’re going to sponsor one in her name,” said Dave.

Students will learn about defensive driving, distracted and impaired driving, as well as skid control and recovery. 

“She is here today floating around with all of us, and touching everyone still,” said Natalie. 

Though she isn’t physically here, her parents believe Makenzie is still making a difference. 

“I think of one thing she always said, ‘Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain,'” said Dave. 

Makenzie’s Dream Fest is being held until 10 p.m. on Saturday, August 19th at Centennial Center Park. Admission is free. 

Click here to donate and support teen crash avoidance classes. 

More reporting by Courtney Yuen:



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