Walk for Witty to raise awareness about DUI

By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld….

Pictured is the car involved in the accident that killed Helen Marie Witty in 2000.

Once again preparations are underway for the Walk for Witty, a walk that raises awareness of the dangers of drunk driving and boosts the funding for thespian scholarships.

The walk — which takes place in memory of Helen Marie Witty, a Palmetto High School student killed in a DUI auto accident — is scheduled for Jan. 29.

This year, the event is being organized by Krysta Lee Garcia, president of the Palmetto High Thespians.

“Every four years the Thespian president has the option of doing the walk, but only every four years because it’s such a big undertaking,” Garcia said. “I’ve been working on this since I was nominated in May.”

That includes working with Palmetto alumnus Noah Gray to film a series of public service announcements to run on Palmetto TV broadcasts.

Four years ago, 800 people participated in the walk. Garcia said they are expecting 800-1,000 people this year.

“The community seems to be very willing and very accepting of the walk,” she said. “It’s a blessing to expect so many people to come.”

Registration forms are printed and ready for anyone to download from the <www.Pinecrest-FL.gov> website (go to What’s New and then to download documents). It costs $10 to register in advance and $15 at the event.

Registrants receive a t-shirt and a bracelet. Thespians also have an ongoing bracelet sale. The bracelets say, “Be safe, be sober, be someone.”

The walk will begin at the Palmetto athletic field and continue to Evelyn Greer Park and back to the school. Registration starts at 8 a.m. and the walk commences at 9 a.m. The walking portion should take about an hour to an hour and a half.

“We are going to have organizations and different speakers,” Garcia said. “Miami-Dade County is bringing out the simulation bus. We’re going to have a couple of activities.”

Feedback about the event has been good. They already had registrations coming in as early as November as well as donations.

“Students are actually willing to help,” she said.

“We went to 50 different locations and put flyers in there,” she said.

Those locations include many of the shops and restaurants at Suniland Shopping Center, including Flannigan’s and Tutti Frutti.

Garcia said that while some students might not remember Witty, who died in 2000, but they can connect to what happened to other former and current Palmetto students who have been in car crashes that involved alcohol.

“I think, unfortunately, we’re still not getting the message,” Garcia said. “It keeps taking more and more people’s lives. Stop and thinking about getting into a car with someone who has been drinking.”

The Walk for Witty already had raised $15,000, not including registration, by the first of the year.

“We’re doing very well,” Garcia said. “We’re expecting a lot of people registering the day of. We are hoping to raise $25,000 to $28,000.”

The first $5,000 will go to MADD. The rest will go to scholarships. There is one scholarship just for a Palmetto thespian and there is a scholarship that can benefit thespian students who are in District 8 for Thespian. District 8 ranges from Broward County south to Monroe County.


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