Why We Walk: Linda Unfried

In the spring of 1983, my sister Josie, and I both watched the original MADD movie, which told the story of Candy Lightner.

I remember saying, “If we ever volunteer for an organization, let’s make it MADD and do it together.”

Six months later, on October 29, 1983, my sister Josie DiStefano Palomino was killed by an underage drunk driver. He was 17 years old and over twice the legal limit. He shouldn’t have been driving at all, as he was driving on a suspended license.

My family was completely shattered. My mom and dad struggled constantly with the grief, but my heart already knew what to do.

Start of a New Chapter

After Josie’s death, I reached out to the only MADD chapter in Florida, which was located in Orlando, and they came to our side. It was then that I realized that we needed a local MADD chapter to assist families going through the same devastation we were facing.

I co-founded the Hillsborough County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving in March of 1984 and I have been volunteering here ever since. It’s been a long, uphill battle for the past 34 years but we are not giving up. We will continue to walk, educate, and assist families who need our services.

Walk Like MADD Tampa

Josie stood at 4’10” but had the heart of a giant!  She would do anything for anyone. My family, friends and I Walk for my Josie every year.

I helped organize the first Walk here in Tampa and was one of the honorary chairs. I’ve taken part in every Walk since. Our goal was to come together and educate the community about the dangers of drinking and driving. Over the years, I know that we have made a big impact. 

Every 50 minutes, someone is killed in a drunk driving crash. Hillsborough County still maintains the highest number of DUI fatalities and injuries in the state of Florida. We walk to end drunk driving with the hope of seeing a future of No More Victims.

The 2018 Walk Like MADD Tampa presented by Burnetti, P.A. will be held on March 23, 2018.  You can go to walklikemadd.org/tampa for more information.

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