It’s a pain that no person should ever have to endure. It’s a tragedy that is entirely preventable and completely unnatural. It’s a senseless, heartbreaking and violent end to a life: it’s drunk-driving fatality and it’s something that is all too common in Long Island and surrounding areas. When our friends, neighbors and loved ones are killed in a drunk-driving accident, whether they were driving or not, we fell as though a piece of us ripped out and are left looking for ways to honor their memories and take action to prevent anyone else from experiencing this excruciating pain. Last weeks Walk Like MADD event in Staten Island illustrated just how effective these efforts can be.
One of 80 if its kind across the United States, the Staten Island Walk Like MADD event was held on September 25, and featured over 180 participants. The event far eclipsed its fundraising goal of $25,000, raising a respectable and promising $31,931. New Yorkers from all across the state who have been impacted by drunk driving gathered with supporters and MADD volunteers to raise money and awareness of this pervasive and deadly problem. Last year there were 364 drunk-driving deaths in the empire state and 6,019 alcohol-related crashes. As the state continues to battle growing heroin and opioid dependency, alcohol abuse remains a consistent public health issue as well.
Now in its third year and originating in Long Island, this year’s New York MADD Walk is an opportunity for residents to mobilize to end drunk driving in their communities. What was perhaps most promising about this year’s walk was the presence of real-life change agents like Chief Assistant District Attorney Paul Capofar whose message prior to the event was to hold the DA’s Office accountable for drunk-driving in their communities and engage with their local leaders to combat the problem. Many participants wore photos of their deceased loved ones on their t-shirts to further reinforce the importance and critical nature of the event and subsequent anti-DUI efforts.