CHARLOTTE--A couple hundred people participated in “Walk Like MADD” Saturday morning in Freedom Park to benefit North Carolina Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The group hoped sharing stories and walking for the cause will help raise awareness about how serious drunk driving is for everyone on the road.
For Chapin, South Carolina resident Joy Blakley, it’s an emotional experience to recount the day that changed her life forever.
"April 3, 2011, so about 18 months ago, David and Trey, my ex-husband and son, were riding their bikes training for a triathlon in Wilmington, NC, and they were in a bike lane and they were hit by a drunk driver,” said Blakley.
The accident happened at 9:30 on a Sunday morning. Blakley said the driver was in his 60s and was drunk and had snorted bath salts the night before the accident.
"I just hope that sharing my story can stop other mothers like me from having to go through the pain and torture that I have gone through,” she said.
As he through Freedom Park with others, Carl Rongo also shared his story.
"What I went through cannot be described, and the pain I went through and still go through today,” said Rongo.
A high schooler in the 1970s, he nearly lost his life to a tractor-trailer driver.
"He was drunk, doing 85 plus. He came onto the narrowest bridge in the Florida Keys. He hit the embankment on the bridge and crushed the car I was driving,” said Rongo.
MADD representatives said one in three people are at risk of being injured in a drunk driving crash. In 2010, more than 10,000 people nationally died in drunk driving crashes.
"Not one drunk driver gets behind the wheel and says, 'I'm going to drive drunk, I want to take a life.' That's not their intent, but they don't realize how impaired they are,” said LaRonda Scott, state executive director for MADD.
So they hope by raising awareness, they can lower the risk.
"I can't change the past, and I'm not going to be sorry about the past, I can only change the future. I'm here to walk for MADD, walking like mad, to change the future,” said Rongo.
This was the fifth "Walk Like MADD" event in Charlotte. This year, the group raised more than $68,000 for the organization.