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Forgiving family launches 'Text Less Live More' campaign in honor of daughter

Published: Wednesday, July 2 2014 12:20 p.m. MDT

This week a national awareness campaign, in honor of 18-year-old Merritt Levitan, encourages teens to put down their cell phones for one day.

Text Less Live More Facebook page

This week a national awareness campaign will be held in honor of 18-year-old Merritt Levitan, encouraging teens to put down their cell phones for one day.

"Our goal is to decrease excessive phone use and encourage people to disconnect from the virtual world and reattach themselves to the real world," the Merritt's Way website states.

"Hopefully, our practice of 'disconnecting' will translate to more substantial real-world relationships and also prevent dangerous habits like texting and driving."

One year ago this week, Levitan was on a 3,000-mile cross-country bicycle trip in Arkansas when she, along with several others, were struck from behind by a distracted driver who was texting on his phone, according to "Good Morning, America."

Levitan died of brain injuries at a medical center in Tennessee one day later, on July 3, 2013.

Levitan lived a full life during her short time on earth and inspired friends and family to create the Text Less Live More campaign in her memory. The campaign is dedicating July 3, 2014, as a day to not use cell phones and to interact with others in person instead.

"Always smiling, always with friends, Merritt lived in the realest way possible. She never failed to be completely attached to what was happening right in front of her," the group stated online.

"For Merritt these types of interactions were easy. She embodied life in its truest form. In this way, Merritt inspired us to start this campaign in her honor."

Levitan's family has forgiven the driver, Teagan Ross Martin, 22, who was charged with negligent homicide. After meeting with the young man and his family, Levitan's parents encouraged him to join their campaign.

“We did not want him to go to jail,” Levitan's mother Anna Levitan, told ABC News. “He’s a country boy at heart and I don’t think he woke up one morning saying he wanted to kill a beautiful 18-year-old.”

“He’s very remorseful, and I think he’s in shock, still,” she said. “Hopefully, he will join our team and be an advocate.”

Email: spetersen@deseretnews.com | Twitter: @Sarah_DNews

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