The 2013 Walk Like MADD raised more than $9,000 to support the East Texas Mothers Against Drunk Drivers chapter and had nearly 100 people preregister to not only make the six-lap 3.1-mile walk around the track in Kids Kingdom but to raise funds for the program.
MADD’s mission is to stop drunk driving, support drunk driving victims and prevent underage drinking. The program has operated and offered services in Sulphur Springs and Hopkins County for a number of years, but this was the first MADD walk held in Sulphur Springs.
A part of their efforts to give back to the community this year will include donating a portion of the funds to Sulphur Springs Police Department to help with the cost of portable breathalyzer equipment for officers to use in the field when drunk driving is suspected, according to Watson.
“Education is also another part of why we raise money — so we can continue to provide services in the community free, to keep them accessible for all who want them,” Watson said.
This year’s walk was dedicated primarily to the memory of Nathan Spataro, who was struck and killed by a vehicle in 2009; alcohol was reported to have been involved. Although a jury found the driver guilty of failure to stop and render aid, they declined to find him guilty of intoxication assault. Spataro’s family has become involved with MADD following his death and now helps promote the organization.
Nathan Spataro’s mother, Becky Hicks, and father, Frank Spataro, were very involved in promoting and making the Sulphur Springs Walk Like MADD a success.
Becky and husband Darrin, along with Frank were among 14 individuals — Magan and Timmy Henderson, Sirena Speed, Janeen and Richard Frances, Cameil Littrell, Daidre Humphries, Aaron Spataro, Pat Leber, Justin Darrow and Brad Cummings — who made up the 2013 Hopkins County Walk Like MADD Committee.
“We have a great Walk Like MADD Committee. This group could take any event and make it a success. Becky Spataro has been a key to that effort. She’s gotten out the information, visited with people. She did really a lot of the ground work,” said MADD of East Texas Executive Director Leslie Watson.
Hicks and Spataro’s team, Laugh Dream Love in honor of Nathan, had the most members; Laugh Dream Love was recognized as the one that raised the most money at the walk, including $8,725.43 via the fundraising website.
Frank Spataro was also recognized for tying Daidre Humphries as second place top adult walkers. Carol Hermes was third.
Aaron Spataro, who walked in memory of his brother Nathan, was recognized as the top youth walker.
Carla Holmes of the Dallas area was recognized as a top MADD volunteer and the top walker. She raised $220 through the walk website, www.walklikemadd.org. Holmes was also a member of the Walk By Faith team, which was recognized as the third place “top team.” Holmes, in addition to being a frequent volunteer for MADD, is also a wreck victim.
The second place team was Wives on Fire for MADD. Watson noted that as the name suggests, the members of that team were all wives and family members of first responders.
“The teams have taken this event and made it an amazing success,” said Watson.
“This is my hometown. I am proud of y'all. Thank you for coming out and supporting such an important mission. Thank you all for coming out. Lets keep the roadways safe,” said Kelli Hale, who joined the MADD of East Texas team in April as program specialist.
Famers Electric Cooperative, where Frank is an employee, was one of two presenting sponsors.
“This is important to us, important to the community. One pair of shoes out there is for our family,” said Frank Spataro pointing to 1,200 plus pairs of shoes along the outer edge of Kids Kingdom, each designed to represent people who died as a result of crashes involving alcohol or drunk drivers. According to MADD, 1,213 people were killed in Texas last year by drunk drivers.
Alliance Bank, where Frank’s wife Deana Spataro worked as a mortgage broker until her death last fall, was the other presenting sponsor.
“As most of you know, the Spataro family and Alliance Bank have been intertwined for some time. We are glad to be a part of this worthy event,” said Keith Shurtleff, senior vice president of Alliance Bank.
Also recognized as a supporting sponsor was Nestle Waters.
The Walk Like MADD Committee also offered thanks to MADD of East Texas staff.
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