Batavia, NY —  Assemblyman Stephen Hawley and The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, a national not-for-profit organization funded by distillers dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking, partnered today to bring a life-saving lesson about the dangers of drunk driving and underage drinking to students of Batavia 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 spoke 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.

“Last year in New York, 298 youths under the age of 18 were arrested for driving under the influence and 1,134 were arrested for liquor law violations (UCR 2004),” said Assemblyman Hawley. “Brandon’s story is proof that one decision truly can change your life. During this visit, we hope to raise awareness about this serious problem, and to encourage students to ‘Make the Right Choice’ when they are faced with the decision to drink.”

“Prom and Graduation Season is a time of great celebration for high school students. Sadly, alcohol is sometimes part of that celebration. In 2004, 713 youths under the age of 21 died in alcohol-related traffic fatalities during the Prom and Graduation Season. One death is one too many,” said Pam Beer of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. “I’m pleased we were invited to give these presentations today, and I am hopeful their words will resonate as students make plans for prom and graduation night.”

During his presentation, Brandon 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, 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, a car and a girlfriend. I had the world at my fingertips, and that all changed because of a stupid choice I made. 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 also appear at the following high schools throughout the week:

May 17, 2006 — Alden High School, - 9:30 a.m.
May 17, 2006 — Grand Island High School, — 1:00 p.m. with Erie County Sheriff’s Office
May 18, 2006 — Bishop Timon/ St. Jude High School & Mount Academy — 9:30 a.m.
May 18, 2006 — Lake Shore High School, - 12:30 p.m. with Assemblyman Quinn
May 19, 2006 — Naples High School, - 9:00 a.m. with Assemblyman Errigo
May 19, 2006 — Batavia High School, - 2:00 p.m. with Assemblyman Hawley

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
CONTACT: Lindsay Law
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility
via email