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Carol Mcnamee

Photo from Carol McNamee

Photo from Carol McNamee

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Hawaii has been a unique force in the Islands since February 1984 as the 200th MADD chapter nationwide.

This year marks the organization’s 30th anniversary, and its official birthday was Feb. 12.

Carol McNamee was involved in the national organization from 1996 to 2003, and served two years as MADD Hawaii’s first president. But she has remained on the board of directors and currently serves as co-chair for its public policy committee.

She lauds MADD Hawaii’s uniqueness and its work to support victims of drunk driving and advocacy work to eliminate drunken and impaired driving.

“Because it’s unique, it’s also very much needed,” she explains. “We continue to have a huge problem, even though great strides have been made.”

McNamee’s interest in MADD began long before the inception of the chapter. In 1982, she was president of Hawaii Medical Association Auxiliary and flew to Hilo for a conference, where she heard Dr. Michael Irwin speak of his loss because of a drunken-driving accident.

“Hearing his story was an eye-opener for me,” McNamee recalls. “Dr. Irwin was going to the Legislature, trying to make a difference, but he was a single person trying to change attitudes, change laws.”

Eventually the auxiliary decided to take on the issue of drunk driving, and voted to look into becoming a MADD chapter.

“It turned out we became three MADD chapters (Honolulu, Hawaii Island and Maui),” McNamee explains. “Because there are three separate parts to our organization, our mission is three-pronged.”

The first two facets of the mission are to stop drunk driving and support victims of the violent crime.

The third aspect came in 1999 and involves preventing underage drinking. “This gives you a platter full of jobs to do, so I always have said that I have never been bored in 30 years,” McNamee says. “The need is always there.”

When McNamee started with the organization, there was a group of about 30 volunteers who were part of the organizing committee – some of whom, including McNamee, still work with MADD Hawaii.

“MADD is an organization with wonderful volunteers and board members, and of course the victims who get right to your heart with their stories,” she says.

To spread the word about the dangers of drunk driving, McNamee is proud to announce the annual Honolulu Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash, slated for May 16 at Kakaako Waterfront Park.

The group also has its MADD Cab Affair gala, to which everyone comes by cab. No one gets to drive their car. Visit madd.org/local-offices/hi for more information on the events or the organization.

“You never know when you can be a victim,” McNamee says. “We ask for everyone’s support for their personal responsibility not to drink and drive or take drugs and drive, but also to help the MADD organization.”