Walk to Remember
“A Walk to Remember Held to Benefit organization Against Distracted Driving.”
By: Della E. Bozeman
On a sunny and breezy Saturday, April 5th 2014, four groups both on and off campus got together and put on an incredibly well organized event to support a great cause. The Stockton Public Health Society, Zaona Chapter of Mu Sigma Upsilom, Housing Four and Five (residential life) and People Against Distracted Driving (PADD) came together to put on the first of what they hope to be an annual event. A Walk to Remember, a walk around Lake Fred that is meant to raise funds and awareness for a campaign against distracted driving.
The event started out as a personal wish for Kristen Kellenyi, a senior Public Heath major and secretary of the Stockton Public Health Society, who lost her sister to distracted driving two years ago on April 15th and her friend Stephanie Henriques, president of the Zaona chapter of Mu Sigma Upsilom here at Stockton. It turned into an event that was humbly supported by the student body and one that showed great potential and gained the necessary enthusiasm to become an annual event.
PADD is an organization that Kristen’s father, Mike Kellenyi, started after his daughter Nikki Kellenyi died in a car accident that happened as a result of distracted driving. Nikki was in the back seat and was just going out with the girls like all teenagers do. The driver of the car had been looking at and using her phone just moments before the crash.
“One day me and my wife were standing over Nikki’s grave [crying] and for some reason we thought about other families who were going through this and didn’t really have support or go to other people and have someone to talk to and we wanted to create an organization that would sort of be that for people,” Mr. Kellenyi said about why he started PADD
The family worked with this organization since October 2013, give or take, and they have already spread to 13 states including Alaska and in three countries, United States, Canada and Europe. It has made its way to colleges and high schools in many areas of our country and now it has come to Stockton.
During their event, “A Walk to Remember,” Kristen and Stephanie not only ran everything they also walked for the cause.
They certainly weren’t the only ones either. There was a total of 100 walkers (tickets sold) and they raised $1,546.87. This figure included the money from the tickets, a raffle that was held and a donation jar that sat on the registration table.
As everyone made their way around the lake they go to pick up a bead at each station that they put on piece of string so that they would have a bracelet at the end of their walk. They could wear this bracelet as a reminder to not drive while distracted.
That was the biggest thing that Mr. Kellenyi wanted. “If you just put the phone down while driving on your way home from this event and think of Nikki when you ignore that call or text message then we did good,” he said as he addressed the walkers in his opening speech.
He said that Kristen wouldn’t let him help her plan this event and the enthusiasm she and Henriques displayed that day proved it. They were so excited and proud to see their event come to fruition and they hope that their respective organizations will live up to their desire to have this walk be an annual event.
The chances of that seem likely as all of the walkers felt that it was an important cause to support because it can happen to anyone, anywhere at any time. It hits home for them.
The Nikki Kellenyi Foundation, PADD® would like to thank Stockton State College and everyone who helped put this walk together and to everyone who donated and participated in this walk. All together over $1,800.00 were raised to help PADD continue to educate and save lives.