BRIDGEPORT, CT — Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04) and 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 about the dangers of drunk driving and underage drinking to students at Warren Harding High School today. Brandon Silveria and his father Tony spoke to students about the importance of “making the right choice” about alcohol, and that if students are under the age of 21, 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.
“As an EMT, every major auto accident I responded to involved alcohol, and sometimes, fatalities resulted,” said Congressman Himes. “I implore these young people and their friends to keep alcohol off the roads. I welcome Brandon and Tony Silveria to Connecticut and am proud to have them with us today to communicate their life-saving message.”
“In Connecticut in 2007, 98 youths under age 18 were arrested for driving under the influence and 310 youths were arrested for liquor law violations,” said Leslie Kimball of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. “The goal of Brandon’s 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 Bridgeport today, and I am hopeful that Brandon and Tony’s words will resonate with the students.”
Also in attendance at today’s presentation were representatives from Norwalk-based Diageo. ”Diageo employees want to make sure our products stay out of the hands of youth under twenty-one and we know that educating them about the dangers of underage drinking can help. Diageo is proud to support Brandon and The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility,” said Guy Smith, Executive Vice President, Diageo North America. Brandon and his father, Tony, will also be presenting their life saving message at Diageo’s corporate headquarters later today.
During the presentation, Brandon 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 17, 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 three 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 for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility is funded by distillers. For more information on The Foundation and its mission, please log onto www.responsibility.org.
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Matthew B. Harakal
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility