Oahu, HI —  Attorney General Mark J. Bennett, The Hawai`i Hotel and Lodging Association and The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, a national not-for-profit organization funded by distillers dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking, partner this week to bring a life-saving lesson about the dangers of drunk driving and underage drinking to students at Kauai High School, Waimea High School, Farrington High School, and Pearl City High School. In advance of Prom and Graduation season, Brandon Silveria, a young man who was involved in an alcohol-related crash at age 17 just before his high school prom, and his father Tony will speak to students about the importance of “making the right choice” about alcohol — and if students are under the age of 21 — the only responsible decision is not to drink. The events mark a continuing partnership between the organizations to combat drunk driving and underage drinking in Hawai`i.

“Prom and Graduation season is a time of great celebration for high school students. Sadly, alcohol is sometimes part of that celebration,” said Attorney General Bennett. “Brandon Silveria is living proof that one bad decision can change your life forever. I am so grateful that he and his father Tony could be here in Hawai`i to relay their life-saving message to students, and I am hopeful their words will resonate as students make plans for prom and graduation night.”

“In 2004, 713 youths under the age of 21 died in alcohol-related traffic fatalities during the Prom and Graduation season,” said Murray Towill, President of the Hawai`i Hotel & Lodging Association. ”Additionally, over the past ten years efforts to stop underage drinking and drunk driving, especially during this celebratory time, have resulted in a 15% reduction in the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities among our youth during the Prom and Graduation season. One death is one too many. I am so proud to have Brandon and Tony Silveria with us today to communicate their life-saving message to young drivers in Hawai`i. We must do more to keep our teens safe and alcohol-free.”

“The good news is underage drinking among high school seniors has declined 33% proportionally from 70% in 1982 to 47% in 2005, according to government surveys (SAMHSA 2005). I’m pleased we were invited to give a presentation today,” said Shannon Adams of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. “During our visit, we hope to raise awareness about this serious problem, and by doing so, save lives in Hawai`i.”

During his presentation, Brandon Silveria will tell students his wrenching story of how as a high school student he had everything a teenager could want — a job, girlfriend and plans for the future — until he had a few drinks at a party and chose to drive home. After falling asleep at the wheel, crossing the centerline and crashing into a tree, he was left in a coma for three months and spent several years in rehabilitation. Silveria was so badly injured that basic motor functions such as walking, talking and swallowing had to be re-learned. He has permanent brain injury and suffers from dangerous seizures. Brandon’s presentations continue to receive standing ovations from students across the country.

“What you become depends on the choices that you make,” said Brandon Silveria. “When I was seventeen, I had a job and a girlfriend. Because of my crash, I lost both of them. My hope is that by sharing my experiences with other young people, I can prevent others from being hurt or killed.”

Through educational efforts such as the Silveria lecture and video program, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility educates students across the country about the hazards of underage drinking and driving. Since Brandon and his father Tony have become spokespeople for The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, they have addressed well over one million high school students nationwide and have been featured on such television programs as “Rescue 911,” NBC’s “Today,” and “Leeza.”

To request a free copy of “Brandon Tells His Story” or for more information on the Silveria program call (800) 431-4499. The 30-minute video, which won an award from the American Medical Association, is accompanied by supporting curriculum materials and can be used with large or small groups of teens.

Brandon and Tony Silveria will appear at the following high schools throughout the week:
April 10, 2006 — Kauai High School — 9:00 a.m.
April 10, 2006 — Waimea High School, — 12:30 p.m.
April 11, 2006 — Farrington High School — 12:44 p.m. with Attorney General Bennett
April 13, 2006 — Pearl City High — 1:15 p.m.

Launched in 1991, The Century Council is funded by America's leading distillers. The Foundation's mission is to promote responsible decision-making regarding beverage alcohol and discourage all forms of irresponsible consumption through education, communications, research, law enforcement and other programs. For more information on the Foundation, log onto www.responsibility.org.
Erica Moulton
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility