People from all walks of life rallied together to support the victims of drunk driving during the Dallas Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash 5K held at Lake Carolyn on Saturday, Sept. 16.
This is the third year the walk has been held in Irving since moving from downtown Dallas. This year’s walk saw nearly 600 participants and over 40 different teams compete in both a competitive 5K run and a non-competitive 5K walk to raise funds for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Altogether, the event raised over $80,000 for MADD.
MADD’s CEO Debbie Wier said the event is one of the biggest events MADD does all year.
“Walk Like MADD is one of our signature public awareness events,” Weir said. “We do about 80 of them across the country and we do about 10 of them in Texas. It’s a great event to bring the community together so they can witness what MADD does, they can honor victims and their families and law enforcement, and also help to raise mission funds for the organization.”
Many individuals, teams and businesses from all over Irving and Las Colinas participated in the day’s events. Irving Officer Stephen Burres received recognition as the largest individual contributor. He and his team from the Irving Police Department raised $5,555, beating the MADD national team by just $31. Burres not only works with the police in dealing with intoxication crimes and DWI arrest, but he has also been involved with MADD for a number of years and is focused on educating the public to prevent drunk driving.
“On average, the DWI officers do about 120 DWIs a year,” Burres said. “We have about five officers assigned to our unit, but we also do a lot of proactive stuff. We teach the Victims Assistance Training Institute for MADD, we do that about every other month. We do a lot of presentations to try and prevent people from driving intoxicated.”
The focus of the event was not only to raise funds and awareness but also to honor the memories of the many victims of drunk driving. Throughout the event, signs were posted and plates were set out detailing the lives of those who died at the hands of drunk drivers. MADD’s Debbie Wier also shared statistics with the crowd prior to the race.
“Every step we take today is one step closer to ending drunk driving,” Wier said. “Someone is killed every 52 minutes of every day in our country, and someone is injured every two minutes [as a result of drunk driving]. While we’ve made great progress, we know we must do better because drunk driving is a hundred percent preventable, every single time.”
One of the largest teams in attendance was Trevor’s Troopers, a group of cheerleaders from Hebron High School who have attended Walk Like MADD and cheered on the participants for many years. Courtney Kennedy, head coach of the Hebron varsity cheerleading team, explained why these girls show up every year.
“Our Hebron cheer program has been affected by Trevor Schor, who was a student at Hebron High School, and his sister was also a member of our program a while back,” Kennedy said. “He was killed by a drunk driver in 2007 as a junior at Hebron. We are walking to honor him and also to show the girls what an important organization this is.”
Kennedy added it is important for young people in particular to see first-hand the effects of drunk driving in the hope they will never do it themselves.
“I think it’s good, especially for high school kids, to see the impact drunk driving has on everybody, but especially teenagers,” Kennedy said. “It helps them learn it’s a devastating cause that could be prevented.”
MADD’s Debbie Wier agreed drunk driving is entirely preventable if people just plan ahead before heading out for a drink.
“Our message is we’ve got to continue to communicate and raise public awareness of the issue,” Wier said. “If you’re over 21 and you’re going to go out or your activity includes alcohol, we’re not against drinking alcohol, but we believe the safest choice is not to drink and drive. Always plan to have a sober driver drive you home, whether it’s a friend, family member, Uber or a cab, it’s just important not to be behind the wheel.”