ATLANTA - Mothers Against Drunk Driving is a huge resource for families who lose a loved one because of a drunk driver. Once a year their big fundraiser is a 5K and this year, it will be bigger than ever.
This year, organizers expect 7,000 people to take part in the event, and one reason the crowds will be bigger than ever is because of the finish line. The race ends on the 50-yard line inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Tyler Sands was a senior at Clemson University, out celebrating his 22nd birthday. Tyler was killed after getting into a car with a drunk driver. "Your life is shattered. Your life is nonexistent of what it was the day before you received that call at 3 in the morning. It's not the same. It's never going to be the same," says Amy Sands.
Nearly 5 years later and Tyler's mother, Amy still struggles with his absence every day. "You can stay in bed all day, which is what you want to do. You can ignore the world and continue to live in the fog or you can say...I have got to do something about this," Amy says.
Amy, along with a friend, Angela Blank--wife of Falcons owner Arthur Blank--both founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving. "Both my father, and my two youngest children's father died from alcoholism at the age of 47, so it was very important for me for my kids to be educated on the dangers of alcoholism," Angela shares.
The women have helped to take MADD's annual fundraiser walk to new heights, with partnerships with the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United and Atlanta Track Club. This year, 7,000 runners are expected, and the race ends inside the new home of the Falcons.
"People are just so excited to go into the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium building and to cross on the 50 yard line. The kids can come out and have a great time. They get to run down the sideline that Julio Jones runs down, and wear their little jerseys. It's an amazing time for the whole family," Angela adds.
Money raised for the event, will go back to MADD, to help prevent drunk driving and help mourning families like Tyler's.
"MADD is mothers, it's fathers, it's sisters, it's brothers, it's family members, it's friends of people who all want to make a difference, that want to stop drunk driving," Amy adds.
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz Stadium 5K/Walk Like MADD is Saturday, September 30th at 7:30am. There will be some onsite registration Friday and Saturday with the Atlanta Track Club.
The event will also honor former Cobb County Police Officer Freddie Norman. Norman died recently, from injuries he received 19 years ago in a crash involving a drunk driver. His family will be honored.
Organizers want to get the MADD message out to teen drivers, and they are even having a "High School Challenge." When you sign up for the race, you select what high school you attend, or what high school you support. The school with the most participants will get a pep rally at their school from the Atlanta Falcons, and the school's football team will get to come to the new stadium for a game.