Love flowed abundantly.
Emotions were on the surface everywhere.
“It looks like a really good turnout,” said Danny Ledford, Dustin Ledford’s dad, of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving pancake breakfast fundraiser Saturday in honor of his son.
Dustin Ledford was killed in a car crash involving an impaired driver almost two years ago.
Dad said he was a little scared around 7 a.m. Saturday when the pancake breakfast fundraiser started and there was only one car in the parking lot. By 7:15 a.m., only one more. But then, more and more diners started showing up — and showing up quickly.
The fundraiser was being held to raise money for Team Ledford in MADD’s Walk to be held in Knoxville on April 28. Danny Ledford helped encourage drivers to stop and have breakfast by standing next to the road with a sign, beckoning hungry diners into Applebee’s.
While out on the street, “I thought I saw Dustin’s car,” he said. — a little gray 1990 Toyota Camry. “It was more than I could stand. I started to cry.”
Danny Ledford needn’t have worried about the turnout, however. More than 100 guests, it was estimated, by the time the breakfast ended enjoyed a pancake and sausage breakfast and added money to the coffers of the fundraiser. In fact, a second section of the restaurant was opened for the influx of diners, which rarely happens, Kim Ledford said.
“People never cease to amaze me,” he said. “It’s a God thing. God just makes everything happen.”
People from the Ledford’s church, Waterville Baptist, relatives, friends, co-workers, and even teachers from long ago classes the Ledfords were in, came to support both Kim Ledford, Dustin’s mom, and his dad, and help raise money for MADD. They came from as far away as Maryville.
“This means so much to me,” said Kim Ledford. “My biggest fear as a mom is that Dustin will be forgotten. It means so much to me that people remember. I can never thank them enough.”
Julie Strike, programs coordinator for MADD for Eastern Tennessee based out of Knoxville, helped run and coordinate Saturday’s event. She currently hopes to establish more chapters in her area.
“Something like this can hit any family any time,” said Teresa Warren, one of the many relatives of the Ledfords at the fundraiser. Warren’s son lost his best friend to a drunk driving car crash when her son was in the fourth grade.
“The Ledfords are wonderful people. It was a tragic loss (losing Dustin). This is something no parent should have to endure.”
Roger Nipper, Dustin’s basketball and baseball coach, also came to the pancake breakfast fundraiser to support the Ledfords.
“It’s personal,” Nipper said. Especially when it is someone close to you, you feel you have to get involved.
And as far as the meal itself was concerned, the pancakes and sausages were very tasty and the service was quick, said Ashley Gregg, a cousin to Dustin Ledford.
As most everyone who attended explained, Gregg and her family came to help the Ledfords and to help raise money for the cause against drunk driving.
“It would be nice if everyone came to this MADD Walk in two weeks to support the Ledfords,” Gregg said.
The Ledfords are working on getting legislation through the state legislature to give stiffer penalties to impaired drivers who take to the roads. Currently, they are waiting for a financial resolutions to allow this legislation to become law.
For more information about Team Ledford, call Kim Ledford at 715-3157 or Danny Ledford at 716-1960. For more information about MADD and the upcoming fundraising walk or to help open a local chapter, call Strike at 865-522-5005 or e-mail her at julie.strike@MADD.org. The main MADD website is located at madd.org. To donate online, go to Walk Like Madd, select Knoxville, select a team, like Team Dustin or Team Ledford.
Anyone who is interested in joining this Walk, may call the Ledfords to register, if possible. Registration is appreciated, but not necessary. Registration is $20.
A free bus ride, leaving the Waterville Baptist Church on Dalton Pike, will be provided Saturday morning, April 28. The bus will leave at 7:30 a.m.