MADD Colorado Recognizes Crime Victims' Rights Week with Celebration of Life Candlelight Vigil

DENVER, April 10, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Colorado held its annual Celebration of Life Candlelight Vigil for victims and survivors of drunk driving crashes in Colorado. Attendees gathered at Space Gallery to take time to light a candle and pay tribute to victims of drunk driving. Those in attendance heard readings from other victim/survivors, community stakeholders, and MADD Colorado representatives before watching the 2011 MADD Colorado Slideshow of photographs of those killed and injured on local roadways.

Each year, MADD Colorado provides a voice for the victims and families affected by drunk driving at its Candlelight Vigil. "It's been almost seven years, and Kris still isn't here," said Julie Legg of her son, Senior Airman Kristopher Mansfield. Mansfield was killed in 2004 by a drunk driver whose blood alcohol was more than twice the legal limit. "The pain does not go away. The best we can do is acknowledge it and continue to live with the pain as well as we can. It's about accepting the loss and knowing that Kris would want us to move forward in life, and that's what we do."

The Vigil provides a forum for bereaved family and friends, injured crash survivors and their caregivers to reflect, share, comfort and be comforted. The public can light a virtual candle online or write a tribute of remembrance and hope by logging onto www.madd.org/victim-services.

"MADD's Candlelight Vigil is an opportunity to honor and remember those killed and injured in drunk driving crashes in Colorado," said Maya Thomas-Wachterman, MADD Victim Advocate. "Remembering these tragedies is not only important to those who are bereaved and injured, but it is also crucial to reminding our community about everyone's role in eliminating these 100 percent preventable deaths and injuries."

In 2009 alone, 158 people in Colorado were killed in drunk driving crashes and countless others were injured. As summertime holidays like Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day are fast approaching, many families face these and other holidays knowing a loved one will be missing from their celebrations. Others are forced to watch their loved ones suffer from devastating injuries, which keep them from living the lives they once knew. This is a chance to honor and remember those lost to drunk driving crashes.

This year, the Candlelight Vigil also helps kick off National Crime Victim's Rights Week — a time to focus on victims of crime and celebrate our nation's progress in serving them. This year's theme, "Reshaping the Future, Honoring the Past," honors victims of crime. In 1984, Congress passed the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), which created the Crime Victims Fund, financed not by taxpayers, but by fines and penalties paid by offenders. The fund supports victim compensation programs that reimburse victims for many out-of-pocket expenses — such as medical care, counseling, funerals and lost wages — that victims face in the aftermath of a crime. The fund also finances victim assistance programs that support victims by providing physical and emotional care, and guidance for navigating the criminal justice system.  

MADD Colorado thanks the major financial contributors that made the Candlelight Vigil possible: Bachus & Schanker, LLC, MADD Colorado's 2011 Statewide Sponsor; Bell & Pollock, PC, MADD Colorado's 2010-2011 Victim Services Sponsor; and the Denver VALE Board. In addition to the Candlelight Vigil, their contributions support MADD Colorado's Victim Services year round.

MADD, one of the nation's largest crime victim assistance organizations, provides services to victim/survivors at no charge, including support from trained advocates and a network of peers, guidance through the judicial process, and counseling referrals. MADD Colorado serves 2,000 victim/survivors each year.

For more information on how to volunteer with MADD or to make a donation to support MADD's work in Colorado, please visit www.madd.org/co.

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Founded by a mother who lost her daughter in a crash, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation's largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. With the help of those who want a safer future, MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® will end this danger on America's roads. PowerTalk 21™ is the national day for parents to talk with their kids about alcohol, using the proven strategies of Power of Parents, It's Your Influence® to reduce the risk of underage drinking. And as one of the largest victim services organizations in the U.S., MADD also supports drunk driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving one person every 10 minutes at 1-877-MADD-HELP.  Learn more at www.madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.

SOURCE Mothers Against Drunk Driving Colorado



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