Walk Like MADD - On the Radio with the Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer

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This Sunday, attorney, Jeff Weinstein will be speaking with Leslie Watson, East Texas Executive Director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) on Blog Talk Radio. They will be discussing the organization and MADD's upcoming walk event in East Texas. WALK Like MADD®, the organization's signature event, will be held Saturday, October 9th in Gun Barrel City, Texas. In 2010, in almost 40 cities around the nation, thousands of people will participate in a 5K walk designed to honor victims and survivors and support MADD's dedication to eliminate drunk driving and prevent underage drinking. What does MADD do? MADD works in more than 600 communities across the country, and has more than 1,400 trained victim advocates on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to support victims with comfort or legal assistance they can rely on. Finding a cure...Unlike most others, MADD's cause doesn't need a cure; it already exists - it's you and me, our friends, our neighbors. It's all of us choosing to drive sober or designating a driver if we drink alcohol.

Transcript

0:00 Speaker

[? Loft Holt ?] Radio.

0:05 Jeff Weinstein

Hey. Good afternoon. This is Jeff Weinstein and I appreciate you listening in to the Longhorn Lawyer show for today. And I'm really excited because Leslie Watson from [? Mad ?] of East Texas is in with us again. And, you know I like to make my introductory remarks. I think it's important that people know that if you drink and drive, no offense, I personally don't like you. Period. I don't care if you're a hard worker, or your friends and family think you hung the moon. The fact that you think it's OK to endanger the lives of innocent people on our roadways is horrendous to me.

0:44 Jeff Weinstein

And I am Jeff Weinstein of Weinstein Law. We're injury lawyers and for the last 23 years, we've helped accident victims with their injuries. Resulting from the senseless acts of drunk drivers. We handle the cases nationwide involving claims against drunk drivers because we believe that we have the ability to really help people. People whose lives have been shattered. And help them put the pieces back together again. For me, prosecuting drunk drivers is personal. If you've been injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, I want to be your partner to help you. We can help you. Remember if you drink and drive, it's really only a matter of time until you pay.

1:24 Jeff Weinstein

So, Leslie Watson, thank you for being here today. How are you?

1:29 Leslie Watson

I'm good Jeff. How are you doing today?

1:31 Jeff Weinstein

I'm good. It's so beautiful outside.

1:34 Leslie Watson

I know. I was just thinking that. This is a pretty good time to be living in the state of Texas, I think with this kind of weather. We don't get blessed like this very often. So hopefully you've been out and enjoying it today.

1:48 Jeff Weinstein

You and I have had an opportunity to chat many times. And this afternoon I went on a bicycle ride with a couple of my daughters. And you and I have that statistic that literally sticks in my head, that one in 10 drivers that are out there right now are intoxicated.

2:07 Leslie Watson

Right. Pretty scary.

2:09 Jeff Weinstein

East Texas is not the most bicycle friendly place in the world to begin with.

2:15 Leslie Watson

No it's not. I would agree with that.

2:18 Jeff Weinstein

And so here we are, rural East Texas, Athens, Texas, riding down farm-to-market roads. And we've got a pretty good system going. You know, hey car. You know, the kids are paying attention. But I'm thinking, one out of every ten cars that were either passing by us or coming towards us, or however it plays out is somebody that is intoxicated.

2:43 Leslie Watson

Right. It doesn't matter what time of day it is. Although obviously that midnight to about three am time in the morning, you probably have a higher risk. But like I said, it doesn't matter what time of day it is. There's always people out there that are driving drunk unfortunately. And that's why MADD's here. And that's why we've been here for 30 years. Is to have that fight against drunk driving. Support victims of violent crime. And also to help prevent underage drinking. That's what MADD's all about. So we hope that if someone is involved, or is a victim of a drunk driving crash, we might be their partner too. And we want to be out there and to advocate for them also.

3:24 Jeff Weinstein

I think that MADD is lucky to have Leslie Watson. You're a hard working person.

3:28 Leslie Watson

Oh. MADD is lucky to have the East Texas team. I mean I'm one of about eight people that work on this mission. And my hats off to especially my victim services team. Because the longer I've been here, and I haven't been here very long. You know that. I've been here about six or seven months. But I have gained such a respect for the work that they do with victims. And seeing how difficult that work is. But they're in there every day fighting for those victims in the trenches. And MADD of East Texas wouldn't be where it is today without them. And we also of course have a great education staff. I have a wonderful team. So really the credit goes to everyone, not to me. So thanks for saying that. I appreciate it.

4:21 Jeff Weinstein

The unfortunate reality is you and your team get way too much on the job training. Wouldn't it be great if all those services weren't needed? That would really be fabulous, wouldn't it?

4:35 Leslie Watson

I agree. I think that there's not a person in our organization from our CEO down that wouldn't like to be put out of business tomorrow, especially when the business is considering drunk driving. I mean, we would really like to see the end of drunk driving. And there are not many non-profits that will say that they want to see the end of what they're doing. But I think we are all very passionate about wanting to see that come to an end, and working very hard toward it. There's a lot of hopefully technology that's going to be coming up in the next several years. Especially with the automotive industry that will hopefully help add to that fight. There's some technologies that exist now, such as the in car breathalizers, that are unfortunately underused in the state of Texas, and they're not mandated. But some parts of the state are pretty good about ordering breathalizers. So there is technology out there. Unfortunately it's not always being used to the extent that it should be.

5:31 Jeff Weinstein

Alright. You've got a big event, MADD has a as big event coming up for Henderson County. And I want to talk about that. So tell us what it is. And let's get through the mess and bulk of what's going to happen.

5:47 Leslie Watson

OK. I would love to. First of all, we are so thrilled to be doing an event in Henderson County. Which encompasses of course-- you and I know, but I'll go ahead and let our listeners know --that's around Athens Texas. So Athens, Gun Barrel City, Cedar Creek. So this is a new venture for us. MADD East Texas. This is our first walk And this is our first big fundraiser in this area. And I have to say the generosity of the community has been amazing. We have set a goal of 15,000 dollars raised from the walk. And today we're at the 87 percent mark. We've raised 13,043 dollars. So I think that probably we'll be over our goal. But right now, we're almost right there. So could not be more thrilled. Like I said, the community has been just amazing in the amount of support that they've given. And so we're so excited to be doing this in the Henderson County community. And we're looking forward to this becoming an annual event.

6:51 Jeff Weinstein

Alright. Let's give everybody the date and the time and the location. We'll go back through that again in a little bit. Because I really want to talk about how the walk came about.

7:02 Leslie Watson

OK. Yeah, because that's really coming out of a victim's story. So I think I would definitely like to touch on that. The walk of course is scheduled for next saturday, October 9th, 2010. In Gun Barrel City. So it's the Gun Barrel Park, which I think if you're from that area, you pretty much you know where that is. But it's area around the fire station and behind ETNC in Gun Barrel City. So the walk will be starting there. It's a 2.3 mile walk. Registration opens at 7:30. And then the walk will actually begin at 8:30. So there will also be a Health and Safety service. We'll have a lot of other area non-profits that will be out there. With information, things to do, activities. Carter Blood Care will be out there doing a blood drive.

7:50 Leslie Watson

We also have one new kind of exciting thing that we're doing. Not only are we doing a Walk like MADD. We're also doing a Ride like MADD, which is being sponsored by the local chapter of the Blue Knights, which is a law enforcement motorcycle club. And so they're going to be doing a motorcycle ride at the same time that the walk is going on. So this will all going on until about 2:00 in the afternoon. So the walk is free. You can still come down and participate and be a part of the walk. If you raise 100 dollars then you get one of the walk t-shirts. We do have great goody bags. The goody bags have some great t-shirts from Weinstein Law Firm, so we're excited by those. Thank you Jeff. You've been wonderful supporters. We really do appreciate you and Kristy so much. I thought I'd throw in a little pitch there for you.

8:39 Jeff Weinstein

You twisted my arm. I didn't have a choice.

8:41 Leslie Watson

No, you guys were so generous. Thank you.

8:44 Jeff Weinstein

Well, thank you for having up help out. So we've got next saturday, registration starts at 7:30 am. Gun Barrel City Park. For those of you that are listening and want to know where that is. You're on the main drag there in Gun Barrel City. And I always call it the Dairy Queen turn. So right there, at Dairy Queen, you take the turn. You know, listen, everybody's had a blizzard.

9:11 Leslie Watson

That's some good East Texas directions there, Jeff. I like that. Take the turn at Dairy Queen.

9:16 Jeff Weinstein

Take the turn at Dairy Queen, and you're [UNINTELLIGIBLE] where you're going. All kinds of nice facilities down there. So, plenty of parking. That won't be an issue. Nice restroom facilities. All that's there, so you'd probably be surprised to see the nice Gun Barrel facilities that actually exist down there. So come on down there. It will be fantastic. You won't have to worry about-- In fact, what I like is what you said. Hey, there's several things that you don't have to do. You don't have to pay to participate. We'd love to have you support the program if you're able. Certainly we'd like to reach our goal without question. And you know, you don't even have to walk if you don't feel like it. Just come show some support.

10:04 Leslie Watson

Absolutely. And we certainly welcome everyone to come out and show some support for MADD and for this event. Like I said, it's been a wonderful partnership. And doing this in Gun Barrel City has been so much fun. A great community. Lots of great community spirity. And so we're expecting a good turnout. One thing I will say. You can register saturday morning. But if you wants to go ahead and register, you can go to www.walklikemadd.org, and you'll see our national website will come up. And if you look under locations for the walk, then it will give you the list of all those different locations. And you'll see Gun Barrel City Walk there. And you can click on that. And then you can go ahead and sign up, make a donation. But like I said, we're just wanting to get a great turn-out. And lots of run things to do besides the walk. If you don't want to walk, you can still find other things to do. So definitely we'd to see everybody out there.

11:02 Jeff Weinstein

You could come cheer the walkers on.

11:04 Leslie Watson

Absolutely.

11:05 Jeff Weinstein

Just come on by.

11:06 Leslie Watson

Yeah, absolutely. And like I said, lots of great non-profits from the Henderson County area that are going to be represented, that have great information. Things to give away. Like I said, Carter Blood Care will be there. So you can still support the blood drive, which is as we all know, critical. Especially this time of year. Almost all times of year. So there's, like I said, lots of things to do. And we really hope everybody will come out. Very family oriented environment. Bring the kids with you. There's going to be some fun things for the kids to do. Yeah, even if you have a little time just to stop by and participate, we would like to have that.

11:45 Jeff Weinstein

So many organizations have fundraisers. You know, everybody's got their own special fundraising thing they do. How did this particular idea for MADD come about?

12:02 Leslie Watson

OK. Well let's see. Walk like MADD has been a national initiative for MADD for probably maybe three or four years. And that's when they've really started trying to gear it up. Over the past year, they created a new opportunity that can be a volunteer-driven walk. Most of our walks are staff-driven. So we have a wonderful volunteer that lives in the Gun Barrel City. Her name is Tammy Branch. And Tammy, unfortunately, is a victim. Lost her son Eric in a drunk driving crash. And I have to say, Tammy is one of my heros. Because it's just interesting to see how different people handle tragic events. But Tammy has been one of those people that has been inspirational to me, because she just continues to take this horrific event of losing her son to a drunk driving crash. He was 19 when he crashed. A young man. Everything ahead of him. And she's taken this, and just has a wonderful passion. Mainly she just wants to make sure that this is never going to happen to anybody else. That's the one thing that we hear over and over and over again from our victims. They just want to make sure this this never happens to anyone else. And so that motivates so many of our wonderful victim volunteers.

13:19 Leslie Watson

Anyway, so Tammy really decided that she wanted to do this. She actually start out participating in our Dallas area walk. But then when this opportunity came, that it could be a volunteer-driven event, she really wanted to see something that would benefit back Henderson County and Gun Barrel City. So she filled out an application, expressed her interest. She put together a great committee. I have never seen such a wonderful volunteer committee. What's really neat about this committee is that we have people from the county attorney's office, from the district attorney's office, and also from the Henderson County Sheriff's department, that are spending their volunteer hours working on putting this walk together. And it's all because they believe in what MADD is trying to do. And that they want to see the elimination of drunk driving also. So it's just-- like I said --just an unbelievable effort on the part of so many. And hopefully everyone that comes out saturday will see the wonderful results of this committee's hard work. And kudos to them. They have been amazing. They have taught me so much about doing an event. And none of these people had ever chaired a walk before. Or even run one. So now they've done other events, and been active in other capacities with other special events. But like I said, it's been wonderful. I think that you could put this group of people up against any group of people in the United States and they would be as successful, if not more successful, than any committee anywhere. I'm very proud of them. And very proud of Tammy for wanting to take this tragedy and turn it into something positive for others. The money that is raised for the walk will go back to benefit MADD through us providing our victims services and through our educational materials. So it does go to support our mission. And we just want to try to get out there to as many people as we can. And let them know what MADD is doing. What MADD has available. When we talked last time, I think you were even surprised about the extent of the the victim services that we provide. So like I said, kudos to the Henderson County Gun Barrel City walk committee. They will be putting on a great event. I know they will. So, like I said, we really hope everyone comes out and wants to participate in this.

15:39 Jeff Weinstein

So, you know, that is amazing. First off, I'm sure we all share in saying how much we wish that the Branch family had never had to go through something like this.

15:52 Leslie Watson

Absolutely.

15:53 Jeff Weinstein

But isn't it amazing that someone who could probably be really mad at the world, and would not do another thing that would benefit the community, has been able to really put so much energy into allowing you the life of her son to really have some meaning.

16:19 Leslie Watson

Right. I agree.

16:21 Jeff Weinstein

The ability to say, hey, you know what? I'm not going to let this stop me. I'm going to turn this into a promotion of the life of my son. And we've got to stop doing this. We all have to work together to stop doing this. And I've gotta tell you, when you and I first met and talked about these things, I was a little concerned-- and no offense to my dear friends out in the Gun Barrel City area --but the whole lake living lifestyle kind of leads itself to being maybe a little more relaxed about drunk driving, drunk boating, etcetera. And we all know that can't be the case. But it's hard to say, we're going to force our values on you, lake community. You don't want to do that either, right?

17:22 Leslie Watson

Right.

17:23 Jeff Weinstein

And so here we have the ability for Ms. Branch and her family and this team, to go right into the heart of the lake community and say, MADD is going to make it presence right here. Isn't that awesome?

17:39 Leslie Watson

Right, and that's one thing. We have spoken before. We are not against the responsible consumption of alcohol. I think that's where some people have some confusion. I mean, if you want to go out to the lake and have some beers, and make sure that you have a designated ride home, or some safe ride home, we are all in favor of that. And that's just what we want to see people do. Plan ahead a little bit. We are certainly like I said, not against anyone enjoying a glass or wine or beer or whatever. It's just about being safe, thinking ahead, protecting yourself, and also protecting others in the community. So I hope that is the message that people understand about MADD. Yes, we are against drunk driving. We're not against responsible drinking. And so I hope that, like I said, people remember that. But the lake community is a snapshot of the much larger community, really when you get down to it. I mean drunk driving is a state right issue for Texas. As we've mentioned previously, Texas is number one in the United States for drunk driving fatalities. So it's just a snapshot of what is actually going on across our entire state. So it's everywhere unfortunately. And it's all kinds of people that engage in this inappropriate, wrong behavior. And I hope that people will slowly begin to get the message. But I'm so pleased that Tammy is out there, and that she is taking a stand in her community. And that's where we all start out making a difference. If we can take a stand for something, against drunk driving, against underaged drinking in our communities. If each one of us could do that, think what a safe place this country of ours would be. And how we would all benefit from that.

19:33 Jeff Weinstein

Alright, so the Walk like MADD next saturday, which is October the 9th?

19:43 Leslie Watson

October the 9th.

19:45 Jeff Weinstein

October the 9th, next saturday. 7:30 in the morning. That sounds awfully early. That's just registration? That's registration. We encourage everyone to register online. It's easier. And if you want to register, if say something in your weekend changes. If you thought you were going to do something and it fell through, you can still register the day of the walk. That's no problem. So we're happy to see you out there.

20:12 Jeff Weinstein

The walk will start about 8:30, right?

20:13 Leslie Watson

You don't have to show up at 7:30. If you're registered for the walk, you can show up at 8:15 and that's no problem.

20:21 Jeff Weinstein

If you want a goody bag?

20:23 Leslie Watson

If you want a goody bag--

20:24 Jeff Weinstein

We need you to help raise 100 dollars. You don't have to donate 100 bucks.

20:28 Leslie Watson

Actually all the walkers get a goody bag. But a t-shirt, to get one of the Walk like MADD t-shirts, our one-in-three t-shirts, you need to raise 100 dollars. So that's kind of the dividing line for actually getting a walk t-shirt.

20:45 Jeff Weinstein

How about just asking 10 of your friends to give 10 bucks for you to walk?

20:50 Leslie Watson

You know, that is the easiest way to raise 100 dollars. And just go around, and who of your friends isn't going to give you 10 dollars for a great cause?

20:59 Jeff Weinstein

Sure.

21:00 Leslie Watson

And it's only 10 dollars. For most people, that's one lunch out or something. But it can make such a difference for the lives of East Texans. So I hope everybody, if someone comes and asks then for 10 dollars for the Walk like MADD, I hope they'll give it to them. So we appreciate all the support, whether you raise 25 dollars, 100 dollars, 250 dollars. It doesn't matter. It's all appreciated. And it will make a difference. I do believe that.

21:31 Jeff Weinstein

Alright, so we're very excited about that. Gun Barrel City Park. And I don't think anybody will have trouble finding that. If later on you're trying to figure out what you've got to do, just call the police department. Don't dial 911 emergency. Just dial the Gun Barrel City police department.

21:48 Leslie Watson

Or the city manager's office. Yeah, don't dial 911. That would not be good. But yeah, and like I said we'll be out there saturday morning. It shouldn't be hard to find at all.

21:59 Jeff Weinstein

Now, Leslie, out of the-- what are you, you've got 49 counties, is that what it is?

22:04 Leslie Watson

We have 49 counties that we serve in East Texas. All offices.

22:09 Jeff Weinstein

Out of 49 counties, how many counties will have a Walk like MADD?

22:16 Leslie Watson

Well this year, probably one. This is really our first effort to try to do this event. So we're planning on having one this year. We may do another one next year. We actually have some other fundraising events we do out of our other offices. In Tyler, we do an event called Tie One On for Safety, which is November 17th of this year. And that basically is a luncheon. We have some award winners, and people that have worked very hard in the fight against drunk driving. And you're probably not surprised that Tammy Branch will be one of our honorees this year, for for all the great work that she's doing as a volunteer. And then in Bryan, we have a law enforcement recognition banquet that we're doing on October 27th. And then in [? Bowmont ?] we will be having a law enforcement recognition banquet in April of 2011. So we have some other events going on. But as of right now, this is our sole walk. Although it it continues to be as successful as it is today, I'm sure that we will look at possibly doing one out of our other offices. So we're overwhelmed by the amount of support. It's been great.

23:23 Jeff Weinstein

You are I are going to talk about these other events later on. But for right now, I think it's important that people know, first off we don't want to have any more victims in any of our counties.

23:32 Leslie Watson

No, we don't.

23:33 Jeff Weinstein

But we should be thrilled as folks from Henderson County that we're actually hosting the event. It's a national type event for MADD. And to be hosting it here in Henderson County, I think it's exciting and it's already a success. We're so close to raising the money.

24:02 Leslie Watson

We are.

24:03 Jeff Weinstein

If you think about these economic times we live in, for Henderson County I'm so proud of all my neighbors who have come together to raise this money. Because all the things that MADD does unfortunately require money. And we have to fund these programs, because these victims deserve nothing less than the best services we can provide them.

24:32 Leslie Watson

Well, thank you. We work very, very hard to provide the best services possible for our victims. And to be out there fighting for them and advocating for them. Yes, and just as kind of a snapshot, Gun Barrel City is one of about thirty, forty walks in the United States. And as I was talking to the walk coordinator at our national office, the Gun Barrel City walk has been more successful than some walks in larger communities. So Henderson County needs to feel real proud of themselves.

25:04 Jeff Weinstein

I don't want you to get cut off. You've got three seconds to give the number for the office in Tyler.

25:09 Leslie Watson

OK. 903-534-6000.

25:12 Jeff Weinstein

Alright. So you and I are still on but it's off live. You know, I'm sure there's a lot of opportunities for volunteers. If someone is hearing this, Leslie, how should they get in touch with you to say, I just want to volunteer?

25:30 Leslie Watson

Call the office. 903-534-6000. That's the easiest way. We have a pretty good volunteer, but you're always going to get out there and realize, you can never had too many volunteers.

25:43 Jeff Weinstein

That's right. Absolutely. Alright, I want to save that number that you gave me. Can I buzz you right back at that number?

25:50 Leslie Watson

Yeah, sure.

25:51 Jeff Weinstein

OK, I'm going to buzz you right back.

25:54 Leslie Watson

OK, sounds good. Bye Jeff.

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