Heather Geronemus’ life changed forever after her father was killed by a drunk driver while
he was crossing a street in 2009. But when a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) victim advocate named Nancy reached out and offered support and resources, Geronemus let the call go to voicemail—and she didn’t listen to the message until several months later. When the pair finally connected, they talked for more than an hour, and Nancy provided support during Geronemus’ court proceedings.
“Nancy was with me every step of the way,” recalls Geronemus, who is the past chair of the national board of directors for MADD. “I was so taken aback by the help I received that I wanted to do something, but I didn’t just want to help other victims. I wanted to prevent these things from happening [in the future].”
Geronemus founded the Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash Fort Lauderdale 5K in 2011— an event where people can gather to help prevent the kind of tragedy her family faced. Since its inception, the event has raised more than $3 million for victim services, prevention education programming, and more. Most recently, the organization helped pass the “Advanced Impaired Driving Technology” component of the federal infrastructure bill, which requires new cars to come equipped with technology that can detect and prevent drunk driving.
This year’s event will take place on April 24 at Huizenga Plaza in Fort Lauderdale, welcoming the community to solve what Geronemus calls a “100 percent preventable crime.” “Only with the power of the whole community can we end drunk driving,” she says.