MARION, NC — Congressman Heath Shuler and The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility partnered today to bring a life-saving lesson about the dangers of drunk driving and underage drinking to students of McDowell County High School. Brandon Silveria 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, that the only responsible decision is not to drink. Brandon is a young man who was involved in an alcohol-related crash at age 17 just before his high school prom. The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility is a national not-for-profit organization funded by distillers dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking.
"Prom and Graduation Season is a time of celebration for high school students. Unfortunately, alcohol is sometimes part of that celebration. The most recent statistics available show that in 2006, 714 youths under 21 were killed in alcohol-related traffic fatalities during the Prom and Graduation Season of April, May, and June," said Congressman Shuler. "Over the past ten years, there has been an eleven percent reduction in the number of young people killed as a result of alcohol-related traffic crashes during this time, but we must continue our efforts to stop drunk driving and underage drinking, especially during this celebratory time. We must do more to keep the teens of North Carolina safe and alcohol-free. I am proud to have Brandon and Tony Silveria with us today to communicate their life-saving message."
"In North Carolina in 2006, 618 youths under age 18 were arrested for driving under the influence and 1,731 youths were arrested for liquor law violations (UCR 2006)," said Jennifer Curley of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. "Our goal with this presentation is to raise awareness about this serious problem and help our youth to make the right choice about alcohol. I'm pleased we were invited to McDowell County High School today, and I am hopeful that Brandon and Tony's words will resonate with the students."
During the presentation, Brandon Silveria told students his wrenching story of how as a high school student he had everything a teenager could want—a job, a 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. Brandon 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. "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 two million high school students nationwide and have been featured on such television programs as "Rescue 911," NBC's "Today," as well as media outlets across the country.
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility is a national, not-for-profit organization dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking. Founded in 1991, The Foundation is funded by distillers. For more information on The Foundation and its mission, please log onto www.responsibility.org.
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The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility