A campaign to prevent drunk driving will hold its inaugural HERO 5K Walk on Sunday, Oct. 20, 11 a.m. at Gillette Stadium. The event, hosted by the New England Patriots and Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey, is expected to attract hundreds of walkers from throughout the Boston area in support of the John R. Elliott HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers.
Registration begins at 9 a.m. at the stadium’s NRG Plaza. To register online, log on to www.theherowalk.org, or call toll free at 1-866-700-HERO.
The non-profit HERO Campaign was established in 2000 in memory of Navy Ensign John R. Elliott, who was killed by a drunken driver two months after graduating from the United States Naval Academy, where he was named the Outstanding HERO officer of his class.
Ensign Elliott was driving home to New Jersey from Annapolis, Md. for his mother’s birthday celebration at the time of his death in July, 2000. He was preparing to enter Naval Flight School in September.
Over the past four years the Patriots have set an NFL record by registering more than 80,000 designated drivers at HERO booths throughout Gillette Stadium in partnership with the HERO Campaign and the NFL’s TEAM Coalition alcohol responsibility program. Each participating designated driver for friends or family receives a complimentary soft drink at stadium concession stands and Patriot Place. Designated drivers also receive the chance to be selected for the coin toss at the following Patriots home game, or if selected HERO of the Year, win tickets to join the Patriots if they are in the Super Bowl.
“We’re proud that so many of our fans recognize the monumental importance of safe and responsible behavior inside the stadium, around Patriot Place and on the roads,” said Jim Nolan, New England Patriots Senior Vice President of Operations, Finance and Administration. “We could not be happier to partner with the HERO Campaign and Norfolk District Attorney’s Office to host this event and encourage even more people to make the pledge to be a designated driver.”
Patriot Place General Manager Brian Earley added he is thrilled Patriot Place has joined the HERO Campaign’s mission to raise community awareness of the importance of designated drivers.
“Through our meetings with the Elliott family we found that unlike so many other societal problems, there is a cure for drunk driving and it’s called a designated driver,” Earley said. “The Elliott family’s campaign is extremely important to us at Patriot Place and we are excited to be holding this event on Oct. 20 and to find more HEROES in our local communities.”
For several years, Michael Morrissey and his office have promoted the HERO Campaign throughout Norfolk County–home of the Patriots–in partnership with area schools and colleges, law enforcement, veterans groups, bar and tavern owners and area businesses. This partnership is especially meaningful as drunk driving is one of Norfolk County’s biggest problems. A county of commuters, with Gillette Stadium as the area’s premiere destination, drunk drivers are the second leading cause of unnatural death in Norfolk County. Last year, 40 lives were lost in Norfolk County at the hand of drunk drivers.
“Time to step up and be a HERO,” District Attorney Morrissey said. “The more we involve people, particularly young people, in activities encouraging safe driving and good decisions, the more lives we will save and injuries we will prevent. This walk raises money for the project and enlarges the circle of people who are involved. It gives students an opportunity to earn community service credit in a way that is as fun as it is constructive – a chance to walk among HEROES.”
Too many lives today are affected, directly or indirectly, by drunk driving. Therefore, the HERO Campaign has chosen to promote a positive message aimed at shifting our collective conscience, and a solution which works: the use of safe and sober designated drivers. Changing these sobering statistics will require a change in mentality, and unfortunately, it is never too early to begin promoting this message to our youth – even well before they are of age. All student participants, from Norfolk County and beyond, will receive community service credit for participating in the HERO 5K Walk.
Presenting sponsor Tedeschi Food Shops will be joined by businesses from Patriot Place, who will sponsor and enter teams for the HERO 5K Walk, to begin at Gillette Stadium’s NRG Plaza and proceed around the stadium, past the practice field, around Patriot Place Plaza, and finish in front of CBS Scene for awards and musical entertainment.
“Tedeschi Food Shops is proud to be a sponsor of the HERO Walk at Gillette Stadium this October. Our company is honored to be affiliated with such a great cause,” added Ray Tedeschi, Senior Vice President of Tedeschi Food Shops. “The HERO Campaign is all about saving lives and we strongly support all of their efforts.”
“We are proud of our partnership with the New England Patriots and the Norfolk District Attorney, and look forward to a large turnout for our first event in the Boston area,” said Bill Elliott, John Elliott’s father and chairman of the HERO Campaign. “The HERO Campaign is saving lives throughout New England as a living legacy for our son, who dreamed of serving his country.”
He noted that in addition to the Gillette Stadium walk on Oct. 20, HERO Walks are being held in Ocean City, N.J. on Sunday, Oct. 6, and at the University of Delaware on Saturday, Oct. 26.
For more information on the HERO Campaign log on to www.herocampaign.org.