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Miles for Matt 5k Walk raises nearly $10k

Rebecca Keiter, Reporter

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Little boy gets his face painted by one of Matthew’s friends on April 28th, 2018. The organizers included face painting so the children would be entertained during the walk. (Photo submitted by Shadan Shahswar)

All it takes is one drink.

Hershey held its annual Miles for Matt 5k Walk at Chocolatetown Square on April 28th, 2018, in honor of Matthew Pritchett, a young man who lost his life to a drunk driver. Hershey partnered with the MADD Organization, where over 200 people have become involved with the walk, and they have raised nearly $10,000 in support of Matthew and his family.

Janice McCurdy, Miles for Matt 5k Walk organizer said, “We partnered with MADD to bring more awareness to the tragedies of drunk driving.”

Matthew passed away April 28th, 2017, when the car he was a passenger in hit a tree, and the impact severed his spinal cord.

Judy Pritchett, Matthew’s Mother said, “Never, did I ever, experience such pain as the loss of my son.”

Matthew was an extremely motivated and kind-hearted person. “He was so full of life, and loved people,” Pritchett said.

He treated everybody he knew like family. In fact, one of his goals in his life was to have a family of his own. He also was a big lover of cars, and wanted to join the National Guard.

Matthew attended and graduated from Hershey High School. He studied psychology at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He was in a relationship with Shadan Shahswar, his girlfriend of 3 years.

Shadan said, “He lived every day to the fullest. He was a caring person that just loved life.”

Matthew was a son, a brother, a grandson, a boyfriend, and a friend to many. He loved when his family and friends got together to enjoy each other’s company.

Courtney Woods, one of Matthew’s friends said, “He could light up any room, and had the most infectious laugh.”

Every day, 28 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This is one death every 51 minutes, and approximately 10,220 deaths every year in the U.S. alone.

The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $44 billion.

Drivers between the ages of 21-44 cause 89% of all alcohol-impaired deaths. Over 16% of people in the U.S. ages 14-36 have lost their life to a drunk driver in 2017 alone.

Drunk driving is an important issue because it takes away the lives of so many innocent, young, and precious people, such as Matthew.

Judy Pritchett said, “I always told him he was my gift.”

The Miles for Matt 5k walk provided refreshments, food, music, a walk participant gift basket giveaway, and face painting for the kids.

There was also a remembrance gathering where Matthew’s friends and family came together to look back on Matthew and reflect on him and his life.

He was always looking for his next move whether it was work, family, life, or even the smallest things like improvements on his car. He was very talented, caring, energetic, and ambitious.

Adrienne Byers, Matthew’s friend said, “Matt was like my second big brother. We were childhood friends, and we grew up together.”

Alcohol-impaired crashes are those that involve at least one driver or a motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or above, the legal definition of impaired driving.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that 1,017,808 drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics in 2017. The arrest rate works out to one arrest for about every 215 licensed drivers in the United States.

The MADD organization along with Matthew’s friends and family hopes to continue to walk each year to raise more awareness to DUI, and pay tribute to those lives who have been impacted by this tragic and dangerous matter.

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Miles for Matt 5k Walk raises nearly $10k