Bloomington, CA —  Thanks to a joint effort between Congressman Joe Baca (D-43) 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 got a life-saving lesson about the dangers of underage drinking and driving today during a presentation at Bloomington High School where Congressman Baca appeared with Brandon Silveria, a young man who was involved in an alcohol-related crash at age 17 just before his high school prom.

"The story of this young man emphasizes our responsibility to educate children about the dangers of underage drinking and driving. Brandon Silveria's powerful message of turning his tragedy into a triumph has touched millions of high school students across the nation," said Baca. "In 2002, 289 youths under the age of 21 died in alcohol-related traffic fatalities in California. Until that number is zero, we must continue to battle against drunk driving and underage drinking. I'm pleased to lend support to The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility's efforts, and I'm grateful Brandon, and Tony could come to California."

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 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 spokespersons 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 Congressman Baca's participation in The Foundation's efforts to combat underage drinking," said Ralph Blackman, President and CEO of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. "Congressman Baca is a longtime partner of ours and with his continued support, we hope to raise awareness about this serious problem, and by doing so, save lives in California."

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.

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