Students hear speaker on drunk driving consequences

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Joanne Gonnerman
Salisbury Post
Formal attire, high school diplomas and celebrations: a culmination of the high school experience.
Drinking and drunken driving: an unfortunate and life-threatening choice teenagers sometimes make.
In recognition of April as Alcohol Awareness Month, the Rowan/Kannapolis Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and the Century Council, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting alcohol abuse, brought an important message to Rowan high schools’ junior and senior students: the dangers of underage drinking and drunken driving .
Tiffany Woodie, a former East Rowan High School student injured by a drunk driver, introduced keynote speakers Brandon Silveria and his father, Tony. Father and son serve as spokesmen for the Century Council, which is funded by America’s leading distillers.
Brandon, now 38, survived a near fatal crash 21 years ago after consuming alcohol at a high school party and driving while impaired.
Afflicted with permanent and visible speech and walking disabilities, Brandon conveyed a simple yet prudent message to his audience: “Take responsibility for your choices. What you become depends on the choices that you make.”
His words emphasized the power of peer pressure.
“Don’t make stupid choices because of peer pressure,” Brandon said. “Take one look at me and ask yourself: Is it worth just a couple of beers? A decision I made (one night) changed the course of my life forever.”
Silveria, 17 at the time of his car crash, was in a coma for nearly three months and spent several years in rehabilitation relearning basic motor functions like walking, talking, and swallowing. He suffered permanent brain damage and wears a watch that reminds him four times a day to take medication that prevents dangerous seizures.
“Do you know how much it hurts not to be normal?” Brandon asked. “We pay for our choices the rest of our lives.”
His father said it a different way, “This is a roller coaster ride that will never end for him.”
Administrative personnel and board members from the Rowan/Kannapolis ABC Board, as well as staff from the N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Law Enforcement division, joined N.C. Rep. Linda Johnson, school principals and local dignitaries in support of the program to educate teenagers about underage drinking and drunken driving.
“As a board, we do the business part like we’re supposed to do,” began Terry Osborne, chief executive officer and general manager of the Rowan/KannapolisABC Board. “This is the educational part of our work. If people like us don’t take the initiative to discuss this with our teenagers, who will? We must be proactive.”
Johnson, and ABC board member Ken Argo echoed that message.
“Life goes by fast,” said Argo. “Make good life decisions.”
“Your decisions are the important things that determine the direction of your life,” Johnson concluded.