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Why We Walk: Mark Evans

By Lauren Harkins

A Florida victim whose brother was killed by drunk drivin


My brother Mark Evan Shepherd was a pretty incredible man. 

Like any great artist, he wasn't well known until after his death. Evan was struck by lightning as a 12-year-old boy while at soccer practice. He almost died, but he walked away from that accident with severe nerve damage and short-term memory loss. Even though he was always told he would never graduate high school, with perseverance and support from our family, he was able to graduate from Northern Michigan University with a degree in graphic design. He even joined the fraternity Alpha Sigma Phi. After graduating college, he packed his things and moved to Florida to be with his family. His time was consumed with free-lancing for local politicians as well as showing his work at Art Walk once a month. He landed his first job as a graphic designer at IPartnerMedia. Evan never gave up on himself despite the many day to day challenges he faced. 

The early morning of January 25th, 2015, Evan was on his way home when he was killed in a hit and run crash. The driver of the other car was leaving the liquor store. When witness’ saw the crash in the middle of the night, they knew there was nothing they could do. They stood around my brother, held hands, and prayed until help arrived. 

Mark Evan Shepherd was 1 of 186 people killed in a hit and run in the state of Florida in 2015.

What happened that night was a tragedy. I was twenty-one when Evan died. I never got the chance to even say goodbye because his body was in such bad condition. Losing him was the most isolating experiences I’ve ever had. You never prepare to lose a sibling. You expect them to be there for every pivotal moment throughout your life time. I lost the man that was always there for me whenever I needed him. The silence is what I find to be the loneliest part of it all. In the light of all this darkness I’m really proud of who my brother Evan was. I was with him the day he updated his licenses to a Florida licenses. He didn’t even hesitate to become an organ donor. Two people now have the gift of sight because of Evan. 

I was very fortunate to have a family with the means to support me through this tragedy. With insurance, my therapy sessions still totaled over $700 a month. When my brother's court case wrapped up and there was a sentencing, I felt really lost. I was so consumed by his case for a year and a half, I wasn't sure where to shift my focus until one day I decided to join Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and take part in Walk Like MADD.

I speak twice a month at a victim impact panel, and I share my story with people who have been charged with DUI’s. MADD provides a support system for victims to channel their grief into something positive and impactful. This non-profit is the first thing that has made me feel normal. They provide free victim advocates to help support families like mine that do not have the means to go to therapy.

My focus now is on the upcoming Southwest Florida Walk Like MADD and Dash, so I can make sure other families don't suffer this devastation. His death has even influenced me to change my degree to psychology to pursue becoming a victim advocate.  Evan will be with us. We are selling shirts with his image to raise money for the Walk and help families financially cope with a death that is 100% preventable.


Voices of Victims: Cherry Chalker

Even though sometimes you can’t see them, crashes can leave marks on someone’s life that will stay with them.

Cherry knows what that’s like because her neck was broken in two places after a drunk driver hit her after running a stop sign. 

Things have changed for her since the crash. She’s afraid of things she would have taken for granted before. She was always a roller-coaster junky before it happened; she loved to ride them and went whenever she could. Since the crash, she is afraid of what they may do to her neck if she decided to try to ride them now. She’s afraid to drive her husband’s car, because it’s smaller and she’s worried that she won’t be able to get out of it if she gets hit.  Even normal driving can cause some anxiety.

She came to MADD after her crash in 2011 and attends her local MADD support group and walks in her local Walk Like MADD event.  

At the last walk, they handed out plates to decorate and share what they have been through. Cherry spent a lot of time thinking about what she was going to do. Since she spent Valentine’s Day in the ICU, her first thoughts were of broken hearts, but it just didn’t come out like she wanted it to. So she tried again.

She wanted to show what it was like to be broken and try to put your life back together and to show that no matter how hard you try, it’s never going to be quite the same. She took a hammer to a plate and with one swing shattered it into pieces. She then glued the pieces back together. But the plate couldn’t be put back to how it was before it was broken…it’s a different plate now. 

Cherry said that no matter how much therapy or rehabilitation or counseling you get, there is a part of you that always lives in that little moment. Everything stops in that moment, and you have to figure out a way to start moving forward again.  

Cherry said that each person has their own process. She would never presume to tell someone how they should grieve or heal. For her, she chooses to forgive the person who did this. She has come to understand that the forgiveness wasn’t for him. It was for her, that she needs it so that she can move forward and that it’s something she had to decide to do and it continues to be an act of will.

Cherry appreciates the support she gets from the group she attends and says one of the encouraging parts is that everyone accepts everyone else and where they are, and there is no comparing of losses. She encourages people who are grieving from an injury or death to work through their process – take as much time as they need to do whatever it is that they need to grieve and heal. There’s no procedure, check list or timetable for this. 

Cherry walks with MADD because she can, and says that it’s a celebration that she still can do this, that’s she is still here to do this. 

When you support MADD, you support victims like Cherry. Thank you for your generosity. Please consider donating today.


Recognizing excellence

Advocating for better laws to protect our roadways from drunk drivers is one of the things MADD’s volunteers and field staff do best. MADD also needs dedicated legislators who are committed to safer roads and preventing the tragedies caused by drunk driving.

This year, MADD is recognizing 69 legislators from across the country for being true partners in our legislative efforts.  These state legislators opened their doors to MADD volunteers and staff, listened to our stories and heard us when we said we must stop 10,000 people from being killed every year by drunk driving. They shared our message and they worked with us to save lives. 

Some of MADD’s Legislators of the Year scored historic victories in their state capitols this year. In Maryland, for example, Delegate Ben Kramer and Senator Jamie Raskin led the General Assembly, along with Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo, to pass Noah’s Law — after six years being blocked by a stubborn committee chair. As a result, Maryland now has one of the strongest all-offender ignition interlock laws in the country. We celebrate Delegates Kramer and Fraser-Hidalgo and Senator Raskin as Legislators of the Year for refusing to give up on this life-saving legislation.

Other MADD Legislators of the Year faced roadblocks in winning support for their initiatives this year, but have committed to returning next year to continue the work they started. In Michigan, Representative Klint Kesto has been a MADD partner for several years on an ignition interlock law for all drunk driving offenders and work will continue in 2017. MADD sincerely appreciates Representative Kesto for his commitment to eliminating drunk driving. In California, Senator Jerry Hill worked tirelessly on a compromise with Governor Jerry Brown’s administration to expand California’s ignition interlock program and has committed to working with MADD in the future to make California’s law even stronger. MADD also has partnered for several years on drunk driving legislation with Wisconsin’s Representative André Jacque, who has pledged to help improve Wisconsin’s ignition interlock law. 

MADD recognizes and thanks all of the Legislators of the Year who joined us in 2016 to further our mission to relegate drunk driving to the history books. We look forward to working with these champions in their respective Legislatures as we continue our march toward a nation with No More Victims.


The 2016 Legislators of the Year: 

California

Senator Jerry Hill 

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez

Colorado

Representative Rhonda Fields 

Representative Polly Lawrence 

Senator John Cooke 

Senator Mike Johnston 

Connecticut

Representative Al Adinolfi

Representative Joe Aresimowicz

Representative Christie Carpino

Senator Eric Coleman

Senator Leonard Fasano

Representative Mary Fritz

Representative Stephen Harding

Senator Tony Hwang

Senator John Kissel

Representative Themis Klarides

Senator Martin Looney

Representative Rosa Rebimbas

Representative Richard Smith

Representative William Tong

Washington, DC

Councilmember Mary Cheh

Florida

Senator David Simmons

Representative Scott Plakon

Representative Robert Cortes

Representative Katie Edwards

Georgia

Representative Tom Rice 

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle 

Indiana

Representative Timothy Wesco

Maryland

Delegate Ben Kramer

Senator Jamie Raskin 

Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo 

Massachusetts

Senator James Timilty

Michigan

Representative Klint Kesto 

Senator Tonya Schuitmaker 

Mississippi

Representative Patricia Willis

Representative Andy Gipson

Senator David Parker

Senator Sean Tindell

Representative Kevin Horan

Missouri 

Representative Caleb Jones

New York

Senator George Amedore

Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas 

Assemblyman John McDonald III 

Assemblyman Dean Murray

Assemblyman David McDonough 

Ohio

Representative Gary Scherer

Pennsylvania

Senator John Rafferty

Representative Keith Greiner

Rhode Island

Senator Stephen Archambault 

Representative Gregg Amore 

South Carolina

Representative Eddie Tallon 

Senator Larry Martin 

Tennessee

Senator John Stevens

Representative William Lamberth 

Senator Randy McNally 

Representative Mark White 

Senator Mark Norris 

Representative G.A. Hardaway 

Representative Joe Pitts

Senator Kerry Roberts 

Senator Doug Overbey

Representative Dale Carr 

Vermont

Representative Willem Jewett 

Wisconsin

Representative André Jacque

Senator Roger Roth 

Senator Alberta Darling

Representative Jim Ott 

Senator Van Wanggaard 

Senator Chris Larson 


Voices of Victims: Cherry Chalker

Even though sometimes you can’t see them, crashes can leave marks on someone’s life that will stay with them.

Cherry knows what that’s like because her neck was broken in two places after a drunk driver hit her after running a stop sign. 

Things have changed for her since the crash. She’s afraid of things she would have taken for granted before. She was always a roller-coaster junky before it happened; she loved to ride them and went whenever she could. Since the crash, she is afraid of what they may do to her neck if she decided to try to ride them now. She’s afraid to drive her husband’s car, because it’s smaller and she’s worried that she won’t be able to get out of it if she gets hit.  Even normal driving can cause some anxiety.

She came to MADD after her crash in 2011 and attends her local MADD support group and walks in her local Walk Like MADD event.  

At the last walk, they handed out plates to decorate and share what they have been through. Cherry spent a lot of time thinking about what she was going to do. Since she spent Valentine’s Day in the ICU, her first thoughts were of broken hearts, but it just didn’t come out like she wanted it to. So she tried again.

She wanted to show what it was like to be broken and try to put your life back together and to show that no matter how hard you try, it’s never going to be quite the same. She took a hammer to a plate and with one swing shattered it into pieces. She then glued the pieces back together. But the plate couldn’t be put back to how it was before it was broken…it’s a different plate now. 

Cherry said that no matter how much therapy or rehabilitation or counseling you get, there is a part of you that always lives in that little moment. Everything stops in that moment, and you have to figure out a way to start moving forward again.  

Cherry said that each person has their own process. She would never presume to tell someone how they should grieve or heal. For her, she chooses to forgive the person who did this. She has come to understand that the forgiveness wasn’t for him. It was for her, that she needs it so that she can move forward and that it’s something she had to decide to do and it continues to be an act of will.

Cherry appreciates the support she gets from the group she attends and says one of the encouraging parts is that everyone accepts everyone else and where they are, and there is no comparing of losses. She encourages people who are grieving from an injury or death to work through their process – take as much time as they need to do whatever it is that they need to grieve and heal. There’s no procedure, check list or timetable for this. 

Cherry walks with MADD because she can, and says that it’s a celebration that she still can do this, that’s she is still here to do this. 

When you support MADD, you support victims like Cherry. Thank you for your generosity. Please consider donating today.


Recognizing excellence

Advocating for better laws to protect our roadways from drunk drivers is one of the things MADD’s volunteers and field staff do best. MADD also needs dedicated legislators who are committed to safer roads and preventing the tragedies caused by drunk driving.

This year, MADD is recognizing 69 legislators from across the country for being true partners in our legislative efforts.  These state legislators opened their doors to MADD volunteers and staff, listened to our stories and heard us when we said we must stop 10,000 people from being killed every year by drunk driving. They shared our message and they worked with us to save lives. 

Some of MADD’s Legislators of the Year scored historic victories in their state capitols this year. In Maryland, for example, Delegate Ben Kramer and Senator Jamie Raskin led the General Assembly, along with Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo, to pass Noah’s Law — after six years being blocked by a stubborn committee chair. As a result, Maryland now has one of the strongest all-offender ignition interlock laws in the country. We celebrate Delegates Kramer and Fraser-Hidalgo and Senator Raskin as Legislators of the Year for refusing to give up on this life-saving legislation.

Other MADD Legislators of the Year faced roadblocks in winning support for their initiatives this year, but have committed to returning next year to continue the work they started. In Michigan, Representative Klint Kesto has been a MADD partner for several years on an ignition interlock law for all drunk driving offenders and work will continue in 2017. MADD sincerely appreciates Representative Kesto for his commitment to eliminating drunk driving. In California, Senator Jerry Hill worked tirelessly on a compromise with Governor Jerry Brown’s administration to expand California’s ignition interlock program and has committed to working with MADD in the future to make California’s law even stronger. MADD also has partnered for several years on drunk driving legislation with Wisconsin’s Representative André Jacque, who has pledged to help improve Wisconsin’s ignition interlock law. 

MADD recognizes and thanks all of the Legislators of the Year who joined us in 2016 to further our mission to relegate drunk driving to the history books. We look forward to working with these champions in their respective Legislatures as we continue our march toward a nation with No More Victims.


The 2016 Legislators of the Year: 

California

Senator Jerry Hill 

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez

Colorado

Representative Rhonda Fields 

Representative Polly Lawrence 

Senator John Cooke 

Senator Mike Johnston 

Connecticut

Representative Al Adinolfi

Representative Joe Aresimowicz

Representative Christie Carpino

Senator Eric Coleman

Senator Leonard Fasano

Representative Mary Fritz

Representative Stephen Harding

Senator Tony Hwang

Senator John Kissel

Representative Themis Klarides

Senator Martin Looney

Representative Rosa Rebimbas

Representative Richard Smith

Representative William Tong

Washington, DC

Councilmember Mary Cheh

Florida

Senator David Simmons

Representative Scott Plakon

Representative Robert Cortes

Representative Katie Edwards

Georgia

Representative Tom Rice 

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle 

Indiana

Representative Timothy Wesco

Maryland

Delegate Ben Kramer

Senator Jamie Raskin 

Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo 

Massachusetts

Senator James Timilty

Michigan

Representative Klint Kesto 

Senator Tonya Schuitmaker 

Mississippi

Representative Patricia Willis

Representative Andy Gipson

Senator David Parker

Senator Sean Tindell

Representative Kevin Horan

Missouri 

Representative Caleb Jones

New York

Senator George Amedore

Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas 

Assemblyman John McDonald III 

Assemblyman Dean Murray

Assemblyman David McDonough 

Ohio

Representative Gary Scherer

Pennsylvania

Senator John Rafferty

Representative Keith Greiner

Rhode Island

Senator Stephen Archambault 

Representative Gregg Amore 

South Carolina

Representative Eddie Tallon 

Senator Larry Martin 

Tennessee

Senator John Stevens

Representative William Lamberth 

Senator Randy McNally 

Representative Mark White 

Senator Mark Norris 

Representative G.A. Hardaway 

Representative Joe Pitts

Senator Kerry Roberts 

Senator Doug Overbey

Representative Dale Carr 

Vermont

Representative Willem Jewett 

Wisconsin

Representative André Jacque

Senator Roger Roth 

Senator Alberta Darling

Representative Jim Ott 

Senator Van Wanggaard 

Senator Chris Larson 


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