NORTH BERGEN, NJ — Thanks to a joint effort between Congressman Robert Menendez (D-13) 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 North Bergen High School. In advance of Prom and Graduation Season, Congressman Menendez appeared with Brandon Silveria, a young man who was involved in an alcohol-related crash at age 17 just before his high school prom.
"I am so pleased that Brandon and Tony Silveria could visit North Bergen this year in advance of the prom and graduation season," said Congressman Menendez. "According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 42 youths under the age of 21 died in alcohol-related traffic fatalities in New Jersey in 2002, a decrease of nearly seven percent from 2001. We must continue to work to be certain that New Jersey’s teens stay safe and alcohol-free on our roads."
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 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 Menendez join The Foundation’s efforts to combat underage drinking in New Jersey," said Jay Hibbard, Field Director for 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 New Jersey."
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.
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility