Why We Walk: Sam Shelton

We walk for the life my brother didn’t get a chance to live. Sam Shelton was 18 when he and his friends were driving home from a weekend in the Rocky Mountains. They were just 20 minutes away from their college campus when a drunk and drugged driver swerved into their lane. Sam was in the passenger seat, wearing his seat belt. He was airlifted to a top trauma hospital where they tried countless life-saving interventions, but the damage was irreparable. He never came out of his coma, and he died ten weeks later.

The other three kids in the car survived, but not without serious physical and emotional trauma that they must endure for the rest of their lives.

The drunk driver walked away unscathed. But 18 months after the crash, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

For our first Walk Like MADD, in 2018, we thought it would be special if we could raise $2,019, in honor of the year Sam was supposed to graduate college. We ended up raising $9,297 to be the top Family and Friends team at the walk!

I was impressed, but not surprised, by the fact that we raised so much more than our goal. Sam’s community has always been far-reaching, loyal, devoted, and oh-so-generous. Throughout the time Sam was in the hospital, my parents and I were never alone, not even for a moment. Friends, family, acquaintances and strangers alike poured out support like a waterfall.

It continues to devastate me that his death was so random and so preventable. I think about the little things that could have put Sam somewhere else at the moment of the crash, but then I remember: It was not Sam’s responsibility to avoid this. It was the responsibility of the other driver to not get behind the wheel when he was impaired.

Getting involved with MADD has helped my family and me find purpose in the wake of Sam’s death. We know the pain drunk driving causes first-hand, and nothing would make us happier than knowing that no other family would have to experience it.

Our memories of Sam push us forward to keep living every day to the fullest, urge us to keep laughing in the face of tragedy, and remind us that the time we shared with him was the greatest gift we ever received.

Please help us honor his legacy and fight for a world with #NoMoreVictims.


Clara Shelton


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