Teams from across Norfolk County, including more than two dozen high schools, joined District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey in a 5K walk around the grounds of Patriot Place – raising money and awareness for the Ensign John R. Elliott HERO Campaign for designated drivers.
“The turnout was fantastic, and very encouraging,” said Morrissey following the Oct. 20 walk, organized by his office, Patriot Place, Tedeschi Foods Shops and Muriel and Bill Elliott, the parents of a Naval Academy graduate who was killed by a drunk driver in 2000 for whom the campaign is named.
The SALSA, or Students Advocating Life without Substance Abuse, team was accompanied on the walk by others from town, including Needham Coalition for Youth Substance Abuse Prevention director Carol Read.
“Society has reversed course on destructive behaviors before. Smoking rates have plummeted since we looked the real consequences of smoking in the face. We can do the same with drunk driving,” Morrissey said. “It has to start with young people appreciating the dangers but also understanding that the cure is having one person in a group of friends step up and say ‘I’ll be there HERO tonight, I’ll be the designated driver.’”
More than 100 members of Morrissey’s staff at the DA’s office and their family members took part in the walk.
“This is something we all very much believe in,” Morrissey said. “Every one of the 1,000 plus people who walked, most of them high-schoolers, can go into their circles of friends and talk about this walk, this issue, and make it clear that to be a designated driver is to be a HERO.”
Morrissey said he normally deals with the issue of drunk driving “on the other side of a tragedy,” like a fatal car crash or arrest. “It was good to be surrounded by hundreds of young people dedicated to being part of the solution.”
The HERO Campaign began in the Elliott’s home area of New Jersey. It is now in every NFL stadium and many communities, and the New England Patriots lead the NFL in participation. The Campaign’s partnership with District Attorney Morrissey makes Norfolk County the first region in Massachusetts to adopt and promote the campaign.