TONAWANDA, NY —  Thanks to a joint effort between Erie County Legislator Chuck Swanick (R-Grand Island, Tonawanda) and The Century Council, 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 Tonawanda Senior High School. During Prom and Graduation Season, Swanick 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 happy to have the opportunity to meet Brandon and hear his story, but more importantly to be able to bring him before students who are coming to a crucial juncture in their lives," said Swanick. "According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 69 youths under the age of 21 died in alcohol-related traffic fatalities in New York in 2002, a decrease of almost 16% from 2001. We still have much work to do, and I believe Brandon's story will help these youth to think about drinking and driving and its possible consequences that may effect not only their lives, but the lives of other people."

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 Erie County Legislator Swanick participate in today’s event in support of The Foundation’s efforts to combat underage drinking in New York," said Jay Hibbard, Field Director for The Century Council. "During our visit, we hope to raise awareness about this serious problem, and by doing so, save lives in New York."

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