MADD Hosts Vigil To Remember Drunk Driving Victims

December 11, 2017

In the last 6 years in Florida, more than 79,000 DUI related crashes have occurred injuring tens of thousands and killing 2200 people. On December 7, 2017, West Central Florida Victims and Survivors came together at the MADD Candlelight Vigil held for the 7th consecutive year at the First Baptist Church of Temple Terrace in Tampa. The Hillsborough County MADD Chapter presented the event and co-founder Linda Unfried welcomed the guests to the ceremony. She said the vigil aims to honor the victims and offer condolences and encouragement to those whose loved one’s lives have been lost to drunken drivers.

Thirty-two SADD club members joined members from Hillsborough High School to show their support and honor the memories of 70 victims by lighting a candle in honor of each victim. Dozens of highway patrol, local police, sheriff, and cadet members were also present; paying their respects as well lighting up their motorcycles and police cars, and lining rows of somber officers creating a moving backdrop for the “Walk of Memories”. Linda Unfried, Doug & Kim Marler, and Sean Hankins shared stories of their losses helping victims with their grief and offer comfort to those attending this ceremony.

Every year, new faces, including the dates of their injuries and/or deaths, are added to those who have gone before them on two continuously scrolling video screens mounted high above the altar for those in their presence to view. This past summer, our SADD club officers attended the Florida Teen Safe Driving Coalition Program. The program required our club to develop and implement a program at the school to improve student driving. The goal of SADD is to help make students aware of the consequences of their actions and hopefully prevent students from making poor choices.

I reached out to Mrs. Maguire, a moderator for the club since its start.

“I am so very proud of our club members for their continued dedication to honoring the memories of those victims whose families cannot attend the yearly vigil. This year we had several seniors who have attended the vigil for all 4 years. These guys are truly examples of men for others as they take time out of their busy end of the semester schedules to help grieving families in our Tampa Bay community.”

Will Rodriguez, the Vice President of the club was also inspired by the vigil.

“SADD is a club that I am very proud of being a part of. I am fortunate to be a part of such a great organization. I’ve been to the vigil since my start at Jesuit and seeing the new faces and old ones coming together for those who have passed away is truly motivational. I look forward to taking an even bigger role next year as president and following in Patrick’s footsteps.”

This year, Jesuit SADD has had a strong presence on campus. We have had an inspirational guest speaker at convocation and plan to have one more in the second semester. We hope to continue to grow as a club to inspire and motivate Jesuit. SADD is an organization I am glad to be a part of and hope to see growth for many years to come.

Here are some pictures from the event:


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