OCEAN CITY — Chad Michael Horne’s bucket list included finishing college, getting married to a beautiful woman and having a healthy marriage and relationship with his children.
His parents found the list in his wallet the day of his funeral. He was killed by a drunken driver in 2010, when he was just 22 years old.
Their son never got to do any of those things, said his parents, Michael and Laura Horne, of Freehold, Monmouth County.
Sister Melanie Horne, 21, said each birthday is difficult, because the anniversary of her brother’s death is the day before.
They were at the sixth annual HERO Walk here Sunday morning, along with hundreds of others.
The Hornes were honored for leading the team that raised the most money for the walk. They ran a golf tournament and will donate more than $15,000 to the organization in their son’s name, they said.
“We believe real people’s stories are what motivate people to do something,” said Bill Elliott, of Egg Harbor Township. He and his wife, Muriel, founded the John R. Elliott sHERO Campaign for Designated Drivers in honor of their son who was killed by a drunk driver in a car accident in July 2000.
John Elliott, then 22, had recently graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, when a drunk driver swerved into his car, killing both drivers and badly injuring Elliott’s girlfriend Kristen Hohenwarter.
“This could happen to anybody,” said Bill Elliott.
The organization encourages people to pledge to be sober, designated drivers for friends and family members.
He said if current DUI trends continue, one in three people will be personally touched by a drunk-driving crash in their lifetimes. One person per hour is killed by a drunk driver, and five to six times that many are injured, he said.
Sunday’s walk was expected to attract up to 1,000 walkers, some of whom would be included in a television commercial filmed at the walk.
Actress Shelby Gribbin, of Brigantine, will be featured in the spot, which will air on cable television, YouTube and on the HERO Campaign website, organizers said.
Bill Elliott said the internet ride provider Uber is a sponsor of the walk for the first time this year.
“Uber signed up in one week 1,500 drivers to take the pledge” to be designated drivers, said Elliott.
They won’t provide free rides but have promised to be available to people leaving bars and taverns Friday and Saturday nights, he said.
Meaghan Kim, of Egg Harbor Township, was there with husband Hak Kim in memory of her best friend in middle school and high school, Jennifer Stoop.
The two grew up together in Burlington County, and Stoop was killed by a drunk driver in her freshman year at Rider University, said Kim.
The loss still feels fresh, especially when she sees old high school friends or Jennifer’s parents, she said.
Now she and her husband have two children, ages 21 and 17. They are close to the age she was when she lost her best friend, said Kim.
“I tell them you can lose somebody the next day. You never know,” she said.
For more information or to take the designated driver pledge visit herocampaign.org.