The end of the year approaching gives us a chance to reflect back on what has been an incredible 2017 for MADD South Carolina. We have experienced important growth in our events and staff, strengthening us for the hard fight ahead. Here’s our Top 10 2017 highlights!
1. Walk Like MADD Greenville Upstate. On September 17th, we held our first upstate Walk Like MADD, and the response from the community was incredible. About 250 victim/survivors and supporters joined our Presenting Sponsor, HotSpot, for a very touching and impactful event. We broke the state Walk Like MADD fundraising record the first time out! A special thanks to Team Rita for their huge attendance and active fundraising!
2. Victim Services Outreach. The heart of what we do is serving victims of drunk or drugged driving crashes. Our Victim Services Specialists, Kimberly Cockrell and Kelly Stafford, have been very busy this year, providing meaningful support to the many, unfortunately, who need us. We are grateful to see many more community agencies—coroners, law enforcement, funeral homes, and more—making sure that the victims they meet are made aware of MADD’s important services. In addition, the partnership with the victim advocates of the SC Highway Patrol is ensuring the best support we can provide to crash victims. Our State Victim Services Sponsor is Yarborough Applegate.
3. Growing Staff. It wasn’t long ago MADD South Carolina had just one full-time staff person; we currently have six! This talented and dedicated team means services have expanded and our presence has increased as we can be serving victims, educating about underage drinking, monitoring courts, and engage volunteers in different parts of the state all at the same time!
4. Court Monitoring Report. In late August, MADD SC released its first Court Monitoring Report, sharing results on what happened with the adjudications of first offense misdemeanor DUI arrests in Greenville, Pickens, Richland, and Kershaw Counties. The media response was incredible as we educated the public about our state’s challenging prosecution environment, especially due to our video dash cam law and our practice of having officers prosecute DUI cases in many areas. You can read the report here and check out one of the media stories here.
5. Strengthened Corporate Partnerships. 2017 was a year of several new or strengthened partnerships with companies that have embraced our mission and our need to grow our capacity. Some notable supporters include Yarborough Applegate (State Victim Services Sponsor), HotSpot Convenience Stores (Walk Like MADD Greenville Upstate Presenting Sponsor), Thompson Funeral Homes (Walk Like MADD Columbia Presenting Sponsor), and State Farm (supporting our Power of You(th) program). There were dozens of other wonderful businesses, so we can’t name them all. Collectively, they contributed to our best year of fundraising and helped us share the mission with many more people across the state.
6. Walk Like MADD Columbia. Our 4th Annual Walk Like MADD Columbia was another success, growing our attendance from the prior year, engaging a record number of sponsors, and continuing our tradition of exceeding our goal. Our Volunteer Chair, Patricia Voelker, continues to provide amazing leadership, and of course we welcome you to join us for a “new look” 2018 Walk on April 14th at the SC Criminal Justice Academy!
7. Power of You(th) Expansion. Under the leadership of our Underage Drinking Program Specialist, Ashley Merrick, interest in our youth underage drinking presentation grew considerably this year. For Red Ribbon Week alone, Ashley presented to more than 2,000 students in several different parts of the state.
8. Incredible Volunteers and Board Members. We simply could not do what we do without the amazing volunteers across the state. Whether it is sharing their victim/survivor stories at Victim Impact Panels, helping plan a Walk Like MADD, doing media interviews, or providing support to crash victims, we are fortunate to have a great group of volunteers that adds wonderful new people all the time. Our entire efforts are also guided and strengthened by our incredible volunteer State Advisory Board, led by our dedicated chair, Dr. Pam Imm.
9. New Court Monitoring Grant. We’ve now seen the potential impact of court monitoring in South Carolina, so we’re excited to grow these efforts. Under a new grant from the Department of Public Safety, we’ve just launched court monitoring in Berkeley, Charleston, and Horry Counties and look forward to engaging volunteers and promoting our findings in these high-crash counties in the future.
10. State Candlelight Vigil. On December 2nd, MADD SC continued its tradition of a meaningful State Candlelight Vigil to remember and honor our victims and survivors. Under the leadership of Kelly and Kimberly, about 125 people came together to honor dozens of special people at the SC State Museum.
With all we have accomplished, it only means our plans are even greater for 2018. We will not stop for a simple reason: we have not reached the day of No More Victims.
So stay in touch and watch us go. Even better, get involved and amplify what we can accomplish together!