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photo by Cindy Cornwell “Peer pressure can change your life. It did for Brandon. It nearly took his life.” Brandon, seated in the blue denim shirt, brought a powerful message to students assembled at Elmhurst High School. Students met personally with Brandon in the media center following the presentation. (l-r standing) Principal Barb Gentry, Brandon’s father Tony, and Attorney General Steve Carter. Attorney General Steve Carter and The Century Council brought a life-saving lesson about the dangers of drunk driving and underage drinking to students at Elmhurst High School.‑ As part of a statewide tour with Attorney General Carter, and homecoming week for the students at Elmhurst, Brandon Silveria and his father Tony spoke 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.

‑"We must all do more to save lives in our area," said Attorney General Carter. "There were 262 alcohol-related traffic fatalities last year in Indiana, and 48 of these deaths were among youth under 21.‑ One death is one too many.‑ We must do more to keep the teens of Indiana safe and alcohol-free.‑ I am so proud to have Brandon and Tony Silveria with us today to communicate their life-saving message to young drivers in Fort Wayne."

‑"In Indiana, 279 youths under age 18 were arrested for driving under the influence, 3,108 youths were arrested for liquor law violations, and 468 youths were arrested for drunkenness (UCR 2003)," said Pam Beer of The Century Council.‑ "I'm pleased we were invited to give a presentation.‑ During our visit, we hope to raise awareness about this serious problem, and by doing so, save lives in Indiana."

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.‑ "I was on every machine possible to keep me alive," Brandon told the students at Elmhurst. He admits that he made a stupid choice to drink and drive. "I was tired after a hard day of rowing practice and the party that evening. I had just two beers. I dropped my teammates off at their homes and was less than five miles from my home when I fell asleep." 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 addressed well over two million high school students nationwide 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 Waynedale News Staff
Author: The Waynedale News Staff
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