As tragic as the stories behind the numbers, is the fact that the staggering statistics of preventable deaths as a result of drunk-driving crashes no longer shock the public psyche.
Last year in the United States, 10,839 people died in drunk-driving collisions — one every 50 minutes. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens and one in three people will be involved in an alcohol-related accident in their lifetime.
The nation’s largest not-for profit organization that compiled these figures — Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) — continues its mission to eliminate drunk driving, serve affected victims, and prevent underage drinking during the 2013 Certified 5K Run Like MADD and 5K Walk Like MADD on Saturday, Feb. 2, at Tropical Park, 7900 SW 40 St.
Now in its third year, the family-friendly event is a celebration-of-life spirited day for the many MADD friends, supporters, organizers and affected families that have benefited from the complimentary victim services programs offered by the 32-year-old organization. Every eight minutes a victim is assisted by MADD, whether with a shoulder to cry on at a cathartic meeting or a hand to hold during one of the ensuing court trials that follow so many cases.
The Castillo Family of southwest Miami- Dade County is one of those families grateful to MADD for helping them cope with the loss of father and husband Roberto Castillo in 2005. The 48-year-old world class runner and businessman was stretching out at 7:30 a.m. off SW 152nd Street on the morning Hurricane Wilma was due when a severely impaired driver returning from a nightclub killed him instantly.
“When my mom and I pulled up to the scene of the accident half an hour later I thought what could my dad have possibly done?” said son Robert Castillo Jr., who was a 22-year-old FIU Sports Management major at the time. “Never did I think something like this could happen.”
Like so many families who cannot envision a life-altering tragedy of that scope entering their reality, Robert was overwhelmed and turned to MADD for help.
“Of course I had heard about MADD and you sort of take them for granted until something happens. My mom hides her pain and wouldn’t cry in front of me. I knew she and my sister, Diana, needed someone to talk to who would understand.”
Today Robert is a basketball coach and elementary school physical education instructor who recently welcomed his first son, Robert Castillo III, into the world. He and his wife, Veronica; his mother, Diana, and sister are still active MADD supporters who found healing and peace through the organization’s support. They plan on listening for the crowds’ cheers upon crossing the finish line at Tropical Park Stadium after the Run Like MADD 5K on Feb. 2.
Janet Mondshein, MADD executive director, said the most beautiful part of the day is how it brings victim families together to feel the support of each other and the community.
“It is a positive, fun event where people are educated and enlightened,” Mondshein said. “Victims are a stunning example of why we choose to drive sober.”
For more information and to register or become a sponsor call MADD at 305-273-3744 or go online to walklikemadd.org/Miami.