Accident victim has powerful message

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By The Staff

HEBRON ESTATES - The words were, at times, a bit difficult to understand.

But the message delivered by Brandon Silveria was crystal clear.

“You have to take responsibility for the choices you make,” said Brandon Silveria.

A star athlete who had a rowing scholarship to Boston College awaiting him made a decision close to his California home that would change his life, and the lives of others, forever.

Instead of rowing, playing football or surfing, Brandon is taking his message to high school students across the country.

Ant that message is clear - make the right choice.

With the assistance of The Century Council, a non-profit organization devoted to raise awareness to the dangers of drinking alcohol, Brandon and his father, Tony, brought their presentation to Bullitt East, Bullitt Central and North Bullitt seniors last week.

At the age of 17, Brandon had just dropped off his friends from a party. He had only two beers and home wasn’t far away. Besides, he was an invincible teenager.

Brandon would not reach his home that night. In fact, he spent the next couple of years in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities.

He suffered violent head injuries and was in a coma for three months after his car struck the tree. It would be another three years in rehabilitation.

“I had the world at my fingertips,” Brandon told the hushed group of seniors at North Bullitt. “It changed the course of my life.”

He said peer pressure is enormous but a person must stand strong and not give in.

Brandon said he had to learn everything over again - including swallowing, walking and talking.

“I made bad choices due to peer pressure,” said Brandon.

Featured on a segment of Rescue 911, emergency workers and doctors talked about how close Brandon was to death and that some doubted whether he would live and what type of life he might have if he did survive.

Since 1995, Brandon and his father have been on the road telling the story to over two million people.

“I hope to God you never have to go through what I’ve been through,” said Brandon. “Take one look at me and ask if it is worth one or two beers.”

Before ending the presentation, Tony Silveria congratulated the seniors on the upcoming graduation.

“You’ve worked hard to get to this pointing your life,” said Tony Silveria.

But he warned them to listen closely to his son’s message. Good friends will stop friends from driving if they have been drinking.

If you don’t, he said you might be regretting that decision for years, which happened to one of his son’s friends.

The magnitude of the decision his son made that night has affected everyone.

From the physical standpoint, Brandon will continue to struggle. He can’t get his GED because the memory portion of his brain doesn’t function that well. Brandon gets frustrated with his speak.

Walking is difficult and he suffers from seizures, said his father.

From the family’s standpoint, such a tragic accident will destroy 70 percent of families. Financially, over $5 million in medical bills have been accumulated.

“It takes one bad decision to screw it up,” said Tony. “It is real.”

He told the guys that they didn’t have to drink to impress their girlfriends. And he told the girls that they have powers over their boyfriends and they should make sure they tell them that drinking is not necessary to impress them.

“Peer pressure often dictates the choices you make without even thinking,” he said. “You can disagree with one another and still be friends. Friends will step up when friends have too much to drink.”

His son made a choice which was illegal. Brandon is not a hero, said Tony.

But he is courageous enough to take his message and his story to others across the nation.

Parents don’t talk to their children enough. Tony said they must tell them that they love them.

Most importantly, Tony and Brandon Silveria agreed that everyone must “make good choices.”