Walk Like MADD 5k a celebration of life

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) of West Central Florida will host its 10th annual Walk Like MADD event at USF on Friday.

The 5k walk is a celebration of life: those who survived drunk driving accidents and loved ones left behind by casualties from drunk driving, according to Alexis Escalante, MADD program specialist.

“It is really a celebratory walk, where we’re honoring the victims of crashes, celebrating the survivors of those crashes and celebrating the families of the victims of drunk driving crashes,” she said.

The walk is dedicated to three tow truck drivers killed in Hillsborough County this year.

Escalante expects about 500 participants at the event, which will have food, games and arts and crafts.

Escalante said that the USF campus is good for a walk like this one because of the strong community here.

“The students who attend USF … are a community. And they're so supportive, we’re looking forward to having them come out and celebrate with us,” she said.

The walk raises awareness of drunk driving. Walkers pledge not to drink and drive or drink underage, depending on their age.

“Two in three people will be affected by a drunk driver in their lifetime,” Escalante said. “So this is something that affects all of us or will affect most of us in a lifetime. So it is so important that we all care about getting drunk drivers off the road because it is a danger not only to ourselves, but to people that we love.”

Renna Reddick, Public Information Officer for University Police, echoed her statement.

“Driving impaired can be lethal and never acceptable,” she said in an email.

The USF police have made five DUI arrests this year and 49 in 2016, according to Reddick.

Students interested in participating in Walk Like MADD can call the organization headquarters and receive a voucher to participate.

“We understand that student funds are limited, so we've got them covered if they give us a call and want to participate,” Escalante said.

The event is $25 for adults and $20 for young people ages 5-18.