About the Foundation

Wayne’s Walk Foundation

The Wayne’s Walk Foundation, Inc. was formed as a nonprofit corporation under Connecticut law in March 2011.   The foundation consists of an all volunteer board of directors, who are dedicated to the foundation’s mission statement and goals.  The Wayne’s Walk Foundation has been granted 501(c)(3) status by the Internal Revenue Service and has been recognized as a Public Charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions made to the Wayne’s Walk Foundation will be tax deductible as allowed by the Internal Revenue Service.

Mission Statement
Through the establishment of the Wayne’s Walk memorial and foundation, we will strive to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving, support activities and educational programs which inform the public about the impact of drinking and driving, and financially support victims and families of drunk driving crashes.

Objectives

- To create the Wayne’s Walk Memorial in the hope that each person who reads the memorial stone will think twice about drinking and driving.

– To sponsor an annual family-friendly fund raising event that will raise the awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving.
- To raise money to financially support programs that focus on the education of drivers regarding the dangers of drinking and driving.
- To create a fund to financially support the victims and families of drunk driving crashes.

The Wayne’s Walk Foundation, Inc. has created a nonprofit organization that is raising awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving, and is raising money to educate drivers and to help assist victims of drunk driving crashes. Founded in memory of Wayne Nicholas Lecardo, the Wayne’s Walk Foundation will carry on Wayne’s philosophy.

Wayne’s perspective on life was truly unique. He was one of those rare people who truly believed it is better to give than it is to receive; he lived his life as a testament to this belief. As a beloved son, brother, husband, uncle, godfather, and friend, he was always willing to contribute, whatever the cause. He was as giving with his time as he was with his resources.

He believed wholeheartedly in the goodness of people.

His generosity knew no bounds, his caring for others, no limits.

Wayne’s Walk will become…”a memorial with a message”, and the Wayne’s Walk Foundation, Inc. will be guided by Wayne’s philosophy.

Board of Directors

Darin Bershefsky, President
While visiting a friend in a small town south of Melbourne, Australia, I received a text message…“call home-urgent!” Thinking it was the announcement of my new niece or nephew who was due to be born around that time, I waited until my visit was nearly over to phone Connecticut. My world as I had known it changed forever with that phone call.

The shock, horror, and disbelief of my best friend’s death were made real once I arrived home and spent time with his grieving widow, family, and friends. Never had I witnessed or experienced such grief! Shortly after leaving his home, myself and two other friends were once again confronted with the dangers of drunk driving when we were nearly killed by another drunk driver, less than eight hours before his funeral. I spoke with the same 911 Operator who took the call about Wayne’s crash, and met the same Police Officers and Paramedics who were with my fallen friend the night of his tragic death. It was completely surreal and what drives me to lead the Wayne’s Walk Foundation.

It is an honor to have been elected President of the Wayne’s Walk Foundation. I plan to bring to this role many years of experience leading teams. As a Registered Nurse for the past 23 years, my experience includes Pediatric ICU, Nurse Supervisor of a large Family Practice Medical Group for the U.S. Navy, Nurse Manager of a multi-specialty Internal Medicine Group in Manhattan, NY, Anesthetic Nurse in Sydney, Australia, and Pediatric Nurse at Yale Children’s Hospital. I have independently owned and operated an International Nursing Recruitment company and have had Quality Leadership Training through the U.S. Navy. In my current role at Yale Children’s Hospital, I care for children in our Pedi Infusion Center, and teach Pediatric Advanced Life Support as a certified instructor. I am also a member of Yale New Haven Hospital’s Quality and Safety Council and Co-Chair of our unit-based Quality and Safety Committee.

I have been a Relay for Life Team Captain and regular supporter of the Tommy Fund for Childhood Cancer, the Kacey Rose Foundation, the Make a Wish Foundation, and the Cure for Life Foundation in Sydney, Australia. Having traveled the world extensively, I have volunteered in South Central India providing medical care to impoverished children.

The inspiration to develop the Wayne’s Walk Foundation began shortly after I visited “Wayne’s Walk” for the first time following Wayne’s death. Having first-hand knowledge as a victim of two horrible drunk driving tragedies, my hope and dream is to carry on Wayne’s legacy through the establishment of a permanent memorial and foundation that together will help raise awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving, and help support the innocent victims of these tragedies.

Kimberly Jane Lecardo Carlson, Vice President

Wayne was my brother and my best friend. Nothing can replace the loss of him. I am bringing to the Foundation several years of business and non-profit volunteer experience. Professionally I was a small business owner with my husband in downtown Mystic, a seasoned travel agent, a meeting and event planner for Pfizer, and most recently the Community Life Services Director at a Retirement Community and a national consultant on the Corporate Resource Team for Life Care Services.  As a volunteer I have been on the planning committee and a liaison for the Taste of Connecticut; acted as a Street Captain for the Mystic Outdoor Art Festival; served as the Vice President for the Friends of the Mystic Aquarium; Co-Chaired the Animal Rescue Kayak (ARK) event; sat on the Board of Trustees for the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center; and was Co-Chair for the St. Mark’s Annual Bazaar. It is my hope that the efforts of the Wayne’s Walk Foundation will help to prevent someone else from losing a loved one, and we are able to help the surviving victims of a drunk driving tragedy.

John Brown, Secretary

After graduating from Wesleyan University in 1994, John and Wayne carried out their longstanding plan of traveling to distant locales, moving first to Boulder, CO (thanks again Uncle Paul) and then on to San Diego, CA for a few months.  John moved back to the east coast in July 1995, where he began working for John Hancock Life Insurance Company in Boston, MA.  John pursued his Juris Doctorate at Suffolk University Evening Law School, graduating in 2001, and gaining admission to the Massachusetts bar in January 2002.  In April 2005, John started his own law firm, founding the Law Office of John M. Brown, located in Hartford, Connecticut.  John is a member of the Connecticut Bar Association, the Connecticut Employment Lawyers Association, the Hartford County Bar Association, and is admitted to practice in Connecticut and Massachusetts.  John is proud to be a board member of the Wayne’s Walk Foundation.

Janice Ricker, Treasurer

Janice Ricker, Wayne Lecardo’s mother, is an active board member and a driving force behind the Wayne’s Walk Foundation. Born and raised in England, Janice received her degree in business from Tottenham College in London. In 1964, Janice moved to the United States where she worked in the corporate world in accounting and office management until her retirement in 2004. Since her retirement she has pursued her passion as an artist. She is a talented painter who enjoys painting sights and scenes that she finds beautiful, safe, and peaceful. Since her sons tragic death in 2007, this has been her therapy. She hopes to be able to donate some of her paintings to raise money for the Wayne’s Walk Foundation to help support victims of drunk driving crashes. Currently residing in Rhode Island with her husband Ken Lesnick, they are credited for working diligently with the Westerly Substance Task Abuse Program to get the social host law passed in 2010. The first town in Rhode Island to pass such a law, Janice and Ken hope that their efforts will prevent another parent from feeling the pain that they have suffered through the death of their son. Janice plans to bring the same passion and energy to the Wayne’s Walk Foundation that she brings to her canvas.

John Joseph Lecardo, Sargeant at Arms

“An Interview with Board Member John J Lecardo”
Why is Wayne’s Walk Foundation important to you?
It is honoring my son and raising awareness about the dangers of drunk driving. Wayne Nicholas Lecardo is my son, and the foundation and walk are named after him.
Why do you want to be involved?
Because it provides an outlet for Wayne’s family and friends to get together in support of a common cause. I planned to spend time with Wayne when I retired from Sikorsky and now that chance is gone. I am honored to be able to spend time with his friends and my family for such a noble cause.
What are your hopes and dreams for the foundation?
That we can raise money to help support MADD’s programs that educate people about the impact of drinking and driving, and to give the families of drunk driving victims support.
What is your background in the community?
I am a third generation Stratford, CT resident who went through the public schools and graduated from Stratford High School in 1957. I started in the restaurant industry in 1953 and eventually went into the Army as a cook from 1958 to 1960 where I went to culinary school and was stationed in Germany. Upon return I remained in the restaurant and small business industry where I managed and partnered in several local businesses from 1960 until 1981. I began a career as an industrial painter in 1974 and eventually worked at Sikorsky where I spent 26 years. I retired from Sikorsky in 2007 at the age of 67.
What is most important to you in your life?
My family, my children, my grandchildren, and my church. I converted to Mormonism in 1989. The day after I turned 50, I was baptized. My beloved children supported me when I changed my religion and were always there for me. Today I have been a member of the Church for 21 years and hold the position of High Priest Group Leader. The Church has made me realize how important family is which makes my loss great here on earth, but I know we will all be together again in Heaven.
What do you hope to bring to The Foundation?
Being the oldest member of the Board and living the life that I have lived, I would hope that my life experience and wisdom will be able lend a guiding light.

Dana Pabst, Event Liaison

Dana Pabst, a native of Stratford, CT, and sister to the Wayne’s Walk Foundation’s President, Darin Bershefsky, is one of our newest board members.  She currently lives in Fairfield, CT with her husband Paul and her two daughters, Payton and Molly.   Dana recently joined the board in 2013 and has taken on the exciting new role of Event Liaison and looks forward to working closely with the board and everyone involved in the Wayne’s Walk events.

Dana earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Connecticut in 2000 and a Master of Arts in Public Policy from Trinity College in 2005.  Dana currently serves as an Executive Assistant at a family office in Greenwich, CT, which manages investments of the Mack family (of Mack-Cali Realty Corp).  In addition to supporting the top level executives of the firm, Dana also works closely with the Chief Financial Officer and the Compliance Officer and assists with day-to-day operations of the firm and schedule planning.

Prior to joining Solon Mack in June of 2005, Ms. Pabst was a legislative aide to five state legislators in the Connecticut General Assembly from 2000 to 2005.  During her time as a legislative aide, Ms. Pabst served as the Treasurer of the House Republican Majority Committee as well as planned and executed major fundraising events such as the House Republican Golf Classic.

Dana remembers Wayne fondly from her Spring Break trip to San Diego in high school, visits to see Wayne and Kate in Mystic, and seeing the Radio City Christmas Spectacular with Wayne in NYC. Dana was very saddened by the loss of Wayne and was especially affected by seeing her brothers Darin and Dave grieving so deeply over the loss of one of their closest friends.  She hopes that through the work of the Foundation, she can do her part to help prevent other families from ever having to suffer a loss of this magnitude.

Denique Weidema-Lewis 

Currently employed as RYASAP’s Director of Prevention/ Regional Action Council (RAC) Director, Ms. Weidema-Lewis provides vision and leadership in regional prevention and health promotion initiatives to best meet the needs of the communities of Bridgeport, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford, Trumbull, and Easton/Redding.

Before arriving at RYASAP, Ms. Weidema-Lewis was employed through the Town of Stratford as the Senior Program Facilitator, responsible for their youth alcohol prevention grants. She worked closely with the community, hosted “communication clinics” and empowerment classes for parents and concerned citizens, and acted as the advisor to two youth committees, which worked on various community activities and youth-led projects. She provided staff support to the Local Prevention Council, the Stratford Youth And Family Advisory Board (YAFAB) and other community initiatives. Denique was also the Program Coordinator of Opportunities Unlimited, a department of The Kennedy Center, Inc., which provided regional services and educational/ recreational programming for children and youth ages 3-21 with special needs.

She has been involved in RYASAP in a volunteer role for a number of years as a previous chairperson of the RYASAP Prevention Committee, facilitator of Finding Her Voice, and as a RYASAP Board member. She is also the Diversity Vice-Chair for the State Operations Council for the Connecticut chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and a Board member of the Wayne’s Walk Foundation.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English with minors in Psychology and Sociology from Southern Connecticut State University.

In her spare time, you can often catch Denique chasing after her young daughter, Mckenzie, trying not to burn down the kitchen on nights it’s her turn to make dinner, and/or in the pursuit of the next fabulous pair of shoes (much to the chagrin of her loving husband).

Katherine Stein Lecardo

I met Wayne in the spring of ‘99 and was immediately captivated by his love of life, generosity, and unique personality. After seeing each other for a few months we moved in together and quickly became inseparable. When we were not working, we enjoyed kayaking, boating, camping, playing games, and numerous other activities.

In the spring of 2003, we were engaged on the island of Kauai, while attending a friends wedding. This was one of the happiest days of my life. We were married two years later.

Over the years, we continually created new goals and achieved them one by one. Our mutual love of the ocean led us to realize our ultimate dream of owning a house near the beach. Life could not have been better. I don’t think there was ever a moment when one of us did not know where the other was. This was a choice we made because we cared so deeply for each other.

Due to this closeness, on the night of Wayne’s accident, I knew when he did not arrive home from work that something was terribly wrong. This led me to the discovery of his fatal accident, along with our dear friend, John Guise. Wayne’s sudden death left me reeling. Not only had I lost my husband, I lost my best friend and constant companion.

By joining the board of Wayne’s Walk, I hope that I can help to prevent this devastation from happening to someone else. Wayne’s amazing spirit will continue to live on through this foundation and inspire others to live as he did. I believe this foundation to be an extremely worthy and important cause and one I am committed to fully. I truly believe that the message and awareness we are creating through this board will not only help victims, but also save the lives of potential victims.