Having a winner in the Kansas Department of Transportation’s “Put the Brakes on Fatalities” poster contest is nothing new for the Miller family of Gorham, but this year was even more special.
Three of the six siblings swept the northwest Kansas regional contest’s age categories this year — Conner, 13, Janessa, 9, and Matthias, 5 — each of them receiving a new bicycle and helmet.
Brothers Christian, 11, and Malachi, 8, were runners up in their age categories, and Christian, Conner and Janesa have also won in the past.
This is the last year Conner can participate, but youngest brother Jenson, 3, will have plenty of help when’s he’s old enough to start entering the contest in a couple years.
They’ve won so often, the family jokingly refers to Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Tod Hileman, who helps present the awards, as “uncle.”
“I am forever a part of the Miller family album,” Hileman joked Thursday afternoon at Gorham City Hall.
“Your picture is on our refrigerator, so you officially are,” mom Jenna Miller said with a laugh.
This year’s triple win was special for another reason, Jenna said, as her husband, Dru Miller died last summer from brain cancer.
“It’s been a rough couple of years for us,” she said. “Things like this are just huge for our family. We don’t take things like this for granted.”
The purpose of the poster contest is to get children thinking about traffic safety at a young age so it’s on their mind as they get into their teen years and start driving, said Lissa Mussman, public affairs manager for the Northwest Kansas KDOT office.
It has done just that for the Miller children, who are homeschooled.
“It was kind of an art project in a way, too,” Jenna said. “It gives us a lot of conversation about obeying the law and what’s right and what’s wrong.”