The walkers are listening to OHP Captain Paul Timmons from OKC speaking before balloon release and fun run/walk started.
It started in February with an idea by local MADD Coordinator Melissa Cornelius to bring more awareness to the dangers of driving while impaired and the impact on the lives of families and friends that fall victim. That idea came to fruition on Saturday with the Walk like MADD event.
Held at Altus Reservoir, 67 walkers and two runners began their 3.2 mile/5K trek around the track. There were over 35 virtual walkers/runners from several other states, all walking/running at precisely the same time. Two dogs also registered and walked with their owners.
After registration the walkers/runners, friends and volunteers all walked alongside a tribute of 245 pairs of shoes, single file heading them to the starting area. There were 245 individuals that lost their lives to impaired driving crashes in Oklahoma in 2010. There were 5,549 individuals that were injured due to impaired driving crashes in Oklahoma in 2010.
After a brief overview of the race by MC Mary Gossett and a touching speech by OHP Captain Paul Timmons, Melissa Cornelius read a loving tribute about the 245 whose lives were lost. The two runners were released to cross the bridge and enter the track and five minutes later, the walkers began their journey. The runners Kaye Eccles and Charles Blevins, the first to finish, crossed the finish line with a time of 31.52. The first walkers to cross the finish line were Jason, Rebecca and Lane Parker.
Several friends, family and walk volunteers greeted, cheered and thanked every single runner and walker as they finished. Every person had a personal reason for being there and several teams walked together in memory of a friend, family member or lost loved one. Jason Parker walked in honor of Sierra Jo Cook, his niece, and stated to her family that “Sierra came in first”. OHP Captain Timmons and his wife walked as well as Altus Police Chief Tim Murphy. Kris Willhight represented Burns Flat Police Department. Ted Krey from American Transport and Limousine in OKC brought a victim family who lost a 4-year-old child and husband to an impaired driving crash. Ted walked in BDU’s carrying an American flag honoring a friend. The fellow Marine served in Afghanistan and returned safely to the US only to be killed by an impaired driver.
“We consider the Walk like MADD event a great success,” said Cornelius, “and send a heartfelt thank you to all the walkers/runners, donors, businesses who contributed goods and services, volunteers and Oklahoma MADD Coordinator, Loretta Denman.” Denman said most MADD Walks take a year of planning and the local Walk was done in 6 months.
Altus Fire Department performed car seat safety checks on about 30 vehicles and gave away 15 new car and booster seats for Child Passenger Safety Week. Brandi Adams with A.F.D. arranged for volunteers to man several games for the children who attended and JB’s Moon Jump set up a jumper. OBI held a blood drive and drew several units of blood. Walkers, runners, A.F.D., OBI, Jackson County EMS and volunteers were treated to a hot dog lunch. Vinson and Brooke Orr entertained the crowd by singing.
This year’s Walk raised over $7,000 for SW Oklahoma victim services. Plans are already underway for another Walk next year.