First walk event proved big for small club at Central

Thursday, April 19, 2012
Participants in a Mothers Against Drunk Driving fundraiser walk Saturday sponsored by Central High School's Team Spirit circle the high school's track. (ADAM VOGLER)

Central High School Team Spirit sponsor Julie Stausing was blown away by the turnout of the Saturday walkathon for Mother's Against Drunk Driving. The group raised $500 with 63 people participating in the event.

"Team Spirit is such a small club, so the fact that many people showed up and raised a significant amount of money is phenomenal," Stausing said.

The club's goal was to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving by walking one mile around the Central High School campus. It is part of a larger program developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Team Spirit aims to empower youth to take an active role in preventing impaired driving as a result of alcohol use, drug use or texting. They also emphasize seat belt safety.

"It just shows how many dedicated members we have," senior Whitney Bramlett said.

Bramlett, president of Team Spirit, said the amount of money raised was double her goal.

"It is a pretty good amount since this is our first time doing it," senior and Team Spirit member Sierra Sides said.

Stausing said, given the success of their first walkathon, the group will hold more in the future.

Patrick Hammond, a physician's assistant affiliated with both Saint Francis Medical Center and Southeast Hospital, was one of the 63 in attendance.

"I work in a hospital, so I see kids come in drunk who didn't know when to stop and didn't know when to stop their car," Hammond said.

Sarah Diemer was another of the 63 attendees. She participated in the walkathon because her younger sister, Ashley Diemer, is part of Team Spirit.

"People drink and drive a lot," Diemer said. "People should be aware of how much it happens."

MADD was founded in 1980 by a mother who lost her daughter in a drunken driving crash. More than 30 years later, the organization still works to stop drunken driving and prevent underage drinking. It also provides support for victims and their families.

"It is really good if you are in that situation to have that comfort," Bramlett said.

According to Stausing, MADD Missouri is losing money.

"Everybody forgets about it until they need it. We want to keep the funding going," Stausing said.

Sides said the group was inspired when Phaedra Marriott-Olsen, a victim of drunken driving, spoke to them in February. Marriott-Olsen was involved in a crash that left her paralyzed from the waist down after an impaired driver crossed the center line and hit her vehicle nearly head on. She went on to become Ms. Wheelchair USA 2010 and a professional speaker. She was formerly part of MADD Missouri and is now part of MADD Tennessee.

"It was inspiring to see what she went through," Sides said.

Central Team Spirit will also hold a docudrama April 25 at the high school. According to Stausing, the docudrama will portray a mock drunken driving accident. The Cape Girardeau police and fire departments, a coroner and the Central Theatre Department will help in the portrayal of the accident.

"We want to put in the back of people's minds what happens when you drink and drive," Stausing said.

ajones@semissourian.com

388-3654

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