DENVER - Attorney General John Suthers and The Century Council today brought a life-saving lesson about the dangers of drunk driving and underage drinking to students at John F. Kennedy 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 Century Council is a national not-for-profit organization funded by distillers dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking.
“There were 259 alcohol-related traffic fatalities last year in Colorado, and 53 of these deaths were among youth under 21 (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 2004). One death is one too many,” said Attorney General Suthers. “We must do more to educate our youth on the dangers of underage drinking. I am so proud to have Brandon and Tony Silveria with us to communicate their life-saving message to young drivers in Denver.”
“Among youth under age eighteen, 454 were arrested for driving under the influence and 4,111 were arrested for liquor law violations in Colorado last year (Uniform Crime Report 2004),” said Ralph Blackman, President and CEO of The Century Council. I’m pleased we were invited to give a presentation today. During our visit, we hope to raise awareness about this serious problem, and by doing so, save lives in Colorado.”
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 Century Council educates students across the country about the hazards of underage drinking and driving. Since Brandon and his father Tony have become spokespeople for The Century Council, they have visited every state in the nation to address well over two million high school students and have been featured on such television programs as “Rescue 911,” NBC’s “Today,” and “Leeza.”
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 Century Council is a national, not-for-profit organization dedicated to fighting
drunk driving and underage drinking. Founded in 1991, The Council is funded by distillers.
For more information on The Council and its mission, please log onto www.centurycouncil.org.