Walk Like MADD 10th Anniversary: Why We Walk – Diana Battell

I learned about MADD through my sister when my nephew was killed by a drunk driver in October of 1983. My nephew, Christopher Thater, was a graduate of Charminade High School and SUNY Binghamton. He was only 22 years old when he was hit and killed by a drunk driver. The offender had multiple DWI’s in a few different states. He finally went to trial and was sentenced to three years but only served 18 months.

Chris was an avid cyclist, going on long trips whenever he could. The day he was killed, he was riding in Binghamton with his friend. They were on the shoulder of a road not heavily traveled, one behind the other. The driver was going fast. He drove his car across the solid yellow line into the opposite lane, and onto the shoulder of the road. The driver missed Chris’s friend but hit Chris so hard that he was thrown into the air and came crashing down to the ground. Chris died on the way to the hospital.

There were three Walks organized by Art Nigro, MADD New York Program Coordinator in the late 1990’s. These Walks were at Sunken Meadow Park and moderately attended, but well organized. The County Executives at the time attended, as well as a few other dignitaries. There was entertainment, food/refreshments and t-shirts. We had a good time. Somehow in the tragedy of how we were brought together, we found strength in each other.

The Walks started to get better participation when a fundraiser came on board. Corporate partners, sponsorships, walkers and multiple vendors began donating to the cause. The Walks now are the best we have ever had. To me it is wonderful to see the strides we have made.

Over the years I have met many people face to face—from victims to law enforcement and other officials. It was my privilege to speak with them and boast about MADD and our accomplishments.

What I marvel about most is the dedication of our volunteers who put so much of themselves into making each Walk or event successful.

Since the beginning, I have been a part of the Walks, events I thoroughly enjoy. I was a staff member for almost 27 years until my recent retirement. I have seen many positive changes in the Walks, and in the many other events MADD’s programs and victim services hold. I will be part of this special event as long as I am able.

The Long Island Walk Like MADD 2018 event will be held on May 12, 2018. Will you help us meet our goal? Funds raised support MADD’s programs & victim services. You can still register to walk and create a future of No More Victims. Go to www.walklikemadd.org/longisland for more information.