DON C. KEENAN HAS A LOT TO BE PROUD OF. NOT BECAUSE HE has owned every different model of Mercedes SL produced since 1972-though that’s pretty impressive-but because he has helped countless children as a child advocacy lawyer and the founder of Keenan’s Kids Foundation. Oprah Winfrey named him among her “People Who Have the Courage,” and in 2003 Emory University granted him a Career Achievement Award in the field of public policy and child advocacy.
It was 11 years ago that the Atlanta-based Keenan, who had represented hundreds of children in personal injury settlements and wrongful death cases, decided to find a way to push for legislative changes regarding child safety. With his Keenan’s Kids Foundation, he won the first case in the United States to establish constitutional rights foster children. Since then, the foundation has launched numerous other initiatives, such as the Playground Safety Report Card Project, a comprehensive education program and safety evaluation for Atlanta playgrounds; the Airbag Awareness Program, started in 1996; and the Trigger Lock Distribution Program, which has given away more than 8,000 gunlocks since 1998. Keenan’s Child Safety Handbook will appear in bookstores in January 2005.

When Keenan isn’t busy with the Foundation’s many projects, which also include food and clothing drives for homeless and at-risk kids, he focuses on his practice. He often prepares for a trial by staying at a client’s home, to gain an understanding of the huge emotional and financial hardships a child’s family faces after an injury or tragedy. “The families are used to seeing their lawyer in a vest and tie, not a bathrobe,” says Keenan. “It’s a very personal kind of bonding.” And when the case goes to court, he’s able to tell a jury the full story. The approach works: Keenan is one of the country’s top medical negligence lawyers.
These days Keenan drives a 2003 SL500 to get from place to place. “After thirty-plus years of driving an SL Mercedes,” says the Atlanta lawyer, “it’s in my DNA.” Just like his dedication to helping kids in need. ?