WESTCHESTER, NY —  Thanks to a joint effort between New York District Attorney for Westchester County Jeanine Pirro, U.S. Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY/18), U.S. Representative Sue Kelly (R-NY/19) and The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, a national not-for-profit organization funded by America’s leading distillers and dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking, students across Westchester County will get a life-saving lesson about the dangers of underage drinking and drunk driving today during presentations at several area high schools: The Masters School, Briarcliff Manor High School, Fox Lane High School, Hastings High School, Pelham Memorial High School, Croton Harman High School, Hendrick Hudson High School. Events are scheduled today through Friday, April 23, 2004.

In advance of Prom and Graduation Season, District Attorney Jeanine Pirro joined 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 during a presentation to students at Briarcliff High School. U.S. Rep. Lowey will also join the Silverias for a presentation at Pelham Memorial High School, and U.S. Rep. Kelly will participate in Friday’s event at Croton Harmon School and Hendrick Hudson High School.

"I am so pleased that Brandon and Tony Silveria could visit Westchester this year as we approach prom and graduation season," said District Attorney Pirro. "Sixty-nine youths under the age of 21 died in alcohol-related traffic fatalities in New York in 2002, a decrease of almost percent from 2001. While these numbers are positive, we still have a lot of work to do."

"Underage drinking and drunk driving have taken a terrible toll on our teenagers for far too long," said Congresswoman Lowey. "I hope this program will give our students the tools and confidence to make responsible decisions. The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility and Brandon are helping us address a serious threat to teens here in Westchester."

"The good news is that over the past 20 years, the number of underage drinkers has decreased. For example, underage drinking among high school seniors has declined 29% proportionally from 70% in 1982 to 50% in 2001, according to government surveys. More work needs to be done, which is why I’m pleased The Foundation has brought this campaign to Westchester County," said U.S. Rep. Kelly.

During the program, Silveria told 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, Brandon 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 over one million high school students nationwide and have been featured on such television programs as "Rescue 911," NBC’s "Today," and "Leeza."

"We are pleased to have the have District Attorney Jeanine Pirro, Congresswoman Lowey and Congresswoman Kelly participating in this week’s events in support of The Foundation’s efforts to combat underage drinking in Westchester County," said Jay Hibbard, Field Director, 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 New York."

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."

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.
CONTACT: Leslie Kimball
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility
via email