Over 200 people were in attendance at the Middle Tennessee Walk Like MADD at Centennial Park on Sunday, September 10, 2017. We were thrilled to see 28 teams participating including teams from law enforcement and highway safety, community partners, corporate supporters, and those in honor of victims and survivors! The group successfully surpassed the event goal of $40,000 to raises more than $47,000 with more donations still being accepted through October 10!
This year’s Walk took on a more positive tone as we celebrated the achievements of our participants who have worked so hard to raise money to #MakeADifference to support the mission of MADD and ensure a future of #NoMoreVictimsTN. Throughout the Walk route, signs told walkers where the money was going that they were raising for MADD. Sign after sign gave examples of donor dollars at work to show offenders the real-life consequences of impaired driving, teach teens about the dangers of underage drinking, provide free services to impaired driving victims, support law enforcement’s efforts to remove impaired drivers, advocate for improved DUI and underage drinking prevention legislation, give a voice to the victims of drunk & drugged driving, and educate the public about the dangers of driving impaired. Also included along the walk route, which surrounded the beautiful lake near the Parthenon, were signs to honor and remember those killed and injured in drunk and drugged driving crashes. These messages, of both the stories of loss and tragedy and the messages about MADD’s mission and programming were not only seen by our own MADD attendees, but by every parkgoer enjoying the day near the Parthenon and the lake. Families at the park, upon seeing our signs, our law enforcement displays and demonstrations, and our 200 attendees wearing Walk Like MADD shirts and/or team shirts, stopped by the MADD Registration table to ask more about our event and why we were there. Some were even compelled to donate to support our cause!
We were very grateful for the participation of our faithful law enforcement partners at this incredible community event. The Metro Nashville Police Explorers volunteered and helped us hang banners, put out directional and walk route signs, and distribute water to walkers. Metropolitan Nashville Police Department set-up a demonstration with a golf cart and “drunk goggles” to show how difficult it is to drive at various levels of impairment. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Association brought out their K-9 unit along with officers, trucks, and one of the boats they use to keep Tennessee waters safe and stop impaired boaters.
Davidson County Sheriff’s Office joined us with a display table and information on safe driving. Tennessee Highway Patrol displayed their “THP Taxi,” a car painted as half patrol car and half taxi with messaging that reminds drivers that after a night of drinking they could get a safe ride home in a taxi or be arrested for DUI and take a ride in the back of a THP vehicle. They also entertained our smallest attendees by letting them try out a Trooper hat and safety vest.
In our Kids’ Zone, young walkers had a chance to create messages with craft materials in honor of victims or as a thanks to law enforcement. They also created art in chalk drawings and messages. Attendees had a chance to learn more about underage drinking prevention at the MADD UAD table and use some fun props for selfies as well.
Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) Tennessee was also on hand with their simulator to let participants try out driving scenarios where they quickly learned just how dangerous bad choices such as texting and driving could be. And corporate supporters such as Humana/Sursa Insurance and Smart Start offered lots of information for attendees regarding keeping roadways safe in Tennessee.
Team Alley included several teams walking in honor of victims and survivors which set out displays of photos and memories of loved ones. And at the MADD Victim Tribute area, our Victims Services staff helped walkers with hand-held Remembrance Boards showing names and/or photos of loved ones that were carried during the Walk event. Team members walked to remember those lost and to take steps towards #MakingADifference so that other families would not have to walk in their shoes. Their courage and determination to “do something” was evident and inspiring.
Before the Walk began, our Opening Ceremony recognized each team and their dedication to MADD’s mission. Our event emcee, Mel Taylor, MADD Tennessee Board Chair and CEO of splitsecnd, then congratulated our Top Fundraiser, Millie Webb, captain of Team Lori & Mitch who raised over $3,000. Then our Top Fundraising Team in our Law Enforcement Challenge was announced. Law enforcement teams compete each year for who will take home the travelling trophy. Two teams, in particular have become quite competitive! But this year’s winner was Team Tennessee Highway Safety Office in honor of Nick Townsend. Captain, Officer Chuck Williams, was happy to tease Team Captain, Sgt. Vinnie Turocy from the Tennessee Highway Patrol about losing the top honor.
MADD is especialy grateful to our Walk sponsors, Nissan North America and StateFarm Insurance, without whom this event would not be possible. A special thank you also, to sponsor, Backyard Burgers, who provided all participants with a coupon for a free meal!