On Saturday night, April 14th, MADD South Carolina held its 5th Annual Walk Like Columbia, and the event was a huge success!  With a new venue, a new time, and an increased emphasis on engaging law enforcement locally and all over the state, participant responses were overwhelmingly positive.

Whether you were able to join us or not, you can experience the day through our pictures.  Check them out here.

This year’s Walk was at the SC Criminal Justice Academy. The Academy was an amazing host, allowing use of all of the grounds and providing assistance at every turn.  A hot day turned cooler for our evening Walk meaning beautiful weather.

Our Presenting Sponsor, Uber, and other great sponsors were on hand for our Walkers to meet.  Our Victim Services Area also featured the unveiling of our Victim Memorial Wall.  Each family representing a victim also received a jar with lights inside and their loved one’s picture to help light their way on the Walk.  Several of our top fundraising teams had a beautiful table display for their team, giving us a sense of why they walk.  Several law enforcement agencies were also on hand with information and giveaways for walkers.  Kids got some great face painting artwork to add to the fun, and Trader Joe’s and Thompson Funeral Homes kept everyone going with snacks and silly selfies.

Keven Cohen of The Point radio in Columbia and MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church emceed a powerful opening ceremony that featured moving victim testimonials and heart felt comments from law enforcement heroes of how much the loss from impaired driving can affect them, as well.  Alphene Holland and The Myles Project received the Top Fundraising Individual and Top Fundraising Team awards while Thin Blue Line Walkers for Ryan and Mojo won the Battle of the Badge first responder fundraising award.

The Walk began through a tunnel of our heroes and onto the Academy grounds.  Glow sticks and flashlights were broken out as darkness came, and everyone seemed to enjoy the new night feel to our Walk Like MADD.

Upon their return, walkers enjoyed subs, wraps, and pizza, along with ice cream and fruit.

At 8:30 pm, we began the first responder appreciation ceremony, which included Facebook Live check-ins from a few of the more than a dozen public safety checkpoints taking place across the state that same night.  Reports from those checkpoints have begun coming in with reports of DUI arrests and many other dangerous behaviors prevented.  One checkpoint had four DUI arrests in just two short hours after the Walk.  Then, first responders in attendance received a new MADD SC challenge coin created with this night in mind.  Finally, we filed outside to watch a column of law enforcement vehicles drive off with sirens sounding and lights flashing as most headed out to be a part of the law enforcement checkpoints.

There are simply too many people to thank for making this night possible, including our volunteer planning team that has worked for months and dozens of additional volunteers that made the event run smoothly on Saturday.

We thank all our sponsors:  Uber, Yarborough Applegate, Thompson Funeral Homes, BlueCross BlueShield, Aflac, Behavioral Health Services Association of South Carolina, Molina Healthcare of South Carolina, State Farm Agent Misty Stathos, LB Simmons Counseling, Metta Marine, Tijuana Flats, Minnie’s Auto Repair, AllSouth Federal Credit Union, McLean Marechal Insurance, and McDonalds. 

Their efforts, along with an anonymous donor that matched $5,000 of team fundraising, and all the teams and individuals who gave so generously, helped us well exceed our $35,000 goal, pushing past the $38,000 mark with 30 more days to fundraise.  Additional donations can be made at www.walklikemadd.org/columbia.

We’d also like to thank the more than 100 law enforcement officers that took part in the enforcement that night and allowed us to Shine A Light On DUI and all they do year-around to keep us safe and prevent impaired driving crashes.

If you didn’t get to be a part of this incredible night, join us next spring or take part in Walk Like MADD Greenville Upstate on October 7th!