Walk Like MADD held at Clemson

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

CLEMSON – One donation at a time, one step at a time, supporters of Mothers Against Drunk Driving South Carolina work to create a

future where there will be no more victims of drunk and drugged driving.

This year’s Walk Like MADD Upstate event was held Sept. 30, for the first time at Clemson University.

WYFF’s Parella Lewis was the event’s emcee.

“A lot of organizations ask us to come and emcee,” she said. “I say no more than I say yes because I have to believe in the organization, that’s

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just me.”

One night driving home after work, Lewis came across an accident scene.

Smelling alcohol on the second driver’s breath, she asked him to exit the car.

“He immediately put his car into reverse and took off,” Lewis said.

She got back in her own and chased him, calling 911.

“He led me right to his house,” Lewis said.

It was not the man’s first drunk driving offense, she said.

“They ended up getting put away for life,” Lewis said.

Lewis received an award from MADD for her actions.

“That was really the first time I knew about MADD,” she said.

Lewis said she’s amazed at MADD’s work “in the here and now” as well as it’s work toward future laws.”

Once again, Hot Spot was one of the sponsors of Walk Like MADD Upstate.

Corporate Manager of Marketing and Merchandising Shawn Holmes presented this year’s donation, a check for $10,000.

“We’ve raised over $117,000 for MADD over the last seven years,” he said.

The Law Offices of Kenneth Berger was another sponsor.

“We handle life-changing injury cases, so we hear a lot of stories from people who’ve been affected by drunk driving, from people who have had catastrophic injuries and deaths in their family,” Director of Marketing & Operations Chelsea Fullerton.

The goal is “to make sure these stories don’t have to happen to more families,” she said.

The family of Charlton Williams was the Honor Family for the 2023 event.

On Thanksgiving night 2020, Charlton’s parents “received a phone call that should only happen in all of our worst nightmares,” Lewis said.

Her “beautiful son” inspired so many people in his life and even in his death, his mother Dawn Williams said.

Before the walk began, Lewis and MADD Victim Services Manager Kimberly Cockrell read a list of names of those killed in crashes caused by drunk or drugged driving. The crowd was asked to repeat the first names of each and a moment of silence was held at the end.

“It’s great that you’re all here, that we’re here together as a family but we all know we shouldn’t be here,” Cockrell said.

MADD Regional Executive Director Steven Burritt recognized contributing sponsors.

Thanks to “a generous friend,” Marjorie Carosiello and the Victor’s Memory team raised more than $61,000. They walk in memory of her son Victor, killed by a drunk driver at 27 years old.

Rhonda Cockrell received the “Heart of MADD” award.

Having checked in on the fundraising tally just before the event began, Burritt said it stood at $98,400.

He believed last year’s event raised around $99,400.

“That close to six figures,” Burritt said. “Maybe we get there this year.”

As of Saturday, fundraising was open for 30 more days, he said.

Visit to donate.

“Maybe this will end up being our first six-figure walk,” Burritt said. “The support is so appreciated because the fight has to go on.”

While over MADD’s history “some incredible changes” have been made in reducing drunk driving crashes, from 2019-2021, drunk driving deaths in South Carolina actually went up 45 percent, he said.

“We can’t accept that kind of backtracking,” Burritt said. “We have to do everything we can. The fight is always going on and we’re glad that you’re here and you’re a part of it.”

After giving MADD SC Hero patches to the first responders at the event, the Williams family then kicked off the walk, leading the group out of the Carillion Gardens on the Clemson campus.