Members of the Stratford community braved dismal weather conditions on Saturday to fight against a deadly foe -- drunk driving.
Supporters of the Wayne's Walk Foundation gathered at Short Beach to dedicate Wayne's Walk, a memorial constructed to commemorate the life of Stratford native Wayne Lecardo, whose life was taken by a drunk driver in 2007. The ceremony was held on Riverdale Drive, the childhood home of Lecardo. Lecardo and two others were killed when their car was struck by a drunk driver after leaving Foxwoods Resort Casino, two days before his 34 birthday.
The Wayne's Walk Foundation is a nonprofit organization created to combat drunk driving. Wayne's Walk is the only nonprofit organization in Connecticut that serves to financially compensate victims of drunk driving. The group is working together with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) by donating 50 percent of all proceeds gathered during the 2011 year to the organization.
Among the speakers at the ceremony were Stratford Mayor John Harkins, MADD Executive Director Janice Margolis and state Sen. Kevin Kelly, R-21, and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT.
According to Blumenthal, 11,000 Americans die ever year as a result of drunk driving. Additionally, he said, four in ten deaths in Connecticut are the result of the drunk driving.
The message for those present at the event, as told by Margolis and echoed by Blumenthal, was the hope that everyone leaves aware of the implications of getting behind the wheel after drinking.
"Never lose sight of the dangers of drinking and driving," Blumenthal said during his address.
The ceremony concluded with the cutting of a ribbon, officially dedicating the memorial to Wayne's Walk. The walk is marked with a stone in honor of Lecardo. Following the cutting of the ribbon, the group then commenced on a wet, but inspiring 5k walk through the park. The walk took participants through Short Beach Park, Riverdale Drive, Prospect Drive and the Audobon Society/Remington property.
The day concluded with a beach party offering pizza, popcorn and snowcones as well as child-friendly activities such as bounce-houses, clowns and face painting. Live music was providecd by the Chris D'Amato band.