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MADD Walk raises more than $8,000 in Houlton

HOULTON, Maine — The third annual Walk Like MADD event held Saturday in Houlton once again proved to be a financial success and emotional experience for the many participants.

A fundraiser for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and held in Houlton in memory of Darcie Hutchinson, the Houlton walk raised just over $8,600, while a second walk held in Portland on Aug. 19 collected $15,100.

This year’s event saw about 135 people turn out Saturday morning for the walk. New this year, was the inclusion of a 5K road race. Tim Williams was the first to cross the finish line with a time of 22 minutes, 31 seconds.

Last year, more than 150 people took part in the walk, raising $13,000 for the cause.

Darcie Hutchinson was a graduate of Houlton High School’s Class of 1993. In 1996, at 21, she was killed in Connecticut by a habitual drunk driver who was a three-time offender. That individual was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with five years suspended.

Nicole Hutchinson, who resides in Raleigh, South Carolina, has returned to her hometown the past three summers to honor the memory of her sister, and countless others whose lives have been impacted by drunk driving, by organizing Maine’s Walk Like MADD event.

Last summer, Nicole was named Maine’s liaison to the national MADD program and has also led MADD walk events in South Carolina.

“It’s been a work in progress,” Hutchinson said of the past year serving as Maine’s liaison. “I am always wondering what else can we do more of. There is still so much work to be done. In 2016, 54 people in Maine died (from drunk driving incidents).”

She said she met four new families who lost a loved one to drunk driving at the Portland walk who are eager to help. Ideally, though, she wishes for a time when there are no loved ones lost due to drunk drivers.

She also wants to get more students involved in the event, and is considering moving the walk to either April or May, when school is still in session.

Heather Campbell, one of Darcie’s best friends in high school, first started unofficial walks in Darcie’s memory back in 2010 and has been one of the driving forces in keeping the walks going in the Shiretown.

“Since the day she was killed, nothing has really been the same,” Campbell said. “You think about all of the things that would of or could have happened. Would she have married and had kids? It’s devastating because one person chose to drink and drive.”

According to the MADD website, on average, two in three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime; every 120 seconds, a person is injured in a drunk driving crash; and every day in America, another 28 people die as a result of drunk driving crashes.

MADD officials do more than simply educate youngsters on the dangers of drunk/drugged driving. The group also serves as a personal support system for families in drunk driving cases, assisting with medical and legal struggles and also working with state legislators to create tougher laws for offenders.

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