Cincinnati, OH —  The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, a national not-for-profit organization funded by distillers dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking, brought a life-saving lesson to students at Mason High School today. 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.

The Foundation worked with the World Association of Alcohol Beverage Industries (WAABI) to bring the presentation to the Greater Cincinnati area, and together the organizations will distribute “Brandon Tells His Story,” a 28-minute video that tells the story of Brandon Silveria’s crash and his recovery, to high school principals in Greater Cincinnati. In addition to the video distribution, the Silverias visited Princeton High and Hamilton High yesterday, and they will continue to St. Bernard High after the presentation at Mason this morning.

Last year (2003) 75 youths under the age of 21 were killed in alcohol-related traffic crashes in Ohio, and there were 33 deaths among 15-20 year old drinking drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“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. I’m pleased to work with WAABI to bring our life-saving message to Greater Cincinnati,” said Jay Hibbard 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 Ohio.”

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 well over one million high school students nationwide and have been featured on such television programs as “Rescue 911,” NBC’s “Today,” and “Leeza.”

Dan Teague added, “As the President of the Tri State chapter of WAABI, it is my duty to do my part to educate our community about the dangers of underage drinking. The Brandon Silveria lecture program is excellent in that students walk into the auditorium, assuming their hour will be spent like any other assembly. It is amazing to see the students take in every word Brandon says; you can hear a pin drop when Brandon is at the podium. He is an amazing young man, and I am glad our organizations have partnered to bring his story to the greater Cincinnati area.”

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