Life of the Party and a Party for Life

Walking through the Philadelphia Zoo on a warm, sun-drenched morning in October.  It’s a beautiful memory.  It’s a memory that will last, too, because of the people with whom I walked.  They came from throughout the Philadelphia region to the 5th annual Walk Like MADD to save lives.   The walkers were all smiles and decked out in colors and imagery of loved ones.  There was face-painting for the kids;  a folk singer for the adults.  Bonnie Weiner, of MADD PA, and Dr. Bryce Templeton, of MADD’s National Board of Directors, were among the staff and volunteers who directed the meaningful event.  Miss Philadelphia 2010, Andrea Helfrich, was there, too, as were other pageant winners.  All these family members, friends, co-workers, high school students and others individually or in teams raised money and pledged their time to encourage responsibility and prevent drunk driving crashes.  Since Mothers Against Drunk Driving was created in 1980, drunk driving fatalities have been reduced by about 40-percent.  That means, nearly 400-thousand people are alive today that might not have been.  A significant portion of this achievement is attributed to the education, awareness, lobbying and legislation connected to MADD.  However, each year thousands of people still die at the hands of drunk drivers.  Several hundred deaths are recorded in Pennsylvania.  The cause remains. The work remains.  The families who know the pain of this loss know there is much work yet to do and that’s why they gather to remember their loved ones, but to do so by looking forward to save the lives of people they will never meet.  Appreciation is owed to the Key Club of Council Rock High School South and their leader, math teacher Jaime Heicklen, to Team Nikki and to Team Jacob and all the teams walking in the name of a victim, to Jason and John, and all the ADA’s who came from the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, and to all the participants.  These folks who are your friends and neighbors are giving of their time and their money to keep alive a son or daughter, a mother or father.  You might want to check out MADD online to learn of some of the current issues and questions related to responsible driving.  Thanks, too, to the friendly and helpful Philadelphia Zoo staff and volunteers.  I  found to be particularly entertaining and frisky today the animals at America’s first zoo.  Check out the orangutan who decided to put a bowl on his head. Life of the party, and today, …a party for life.