It was a fantastic day for him. Not only was his speech well executed and well received, he was a bit of a celebrity for a day. Some of the students recognized him from his MTV show. He shook many hands and yes, even gave out an autograph or two.
He's been asked if his presentation could be used to educate teens about safe driving on the internet, so we'll see if anything happens with that. In the mean time,you can view his speech here on YouTube, or read it here:
Good morning. As you all know, car accidents are the primary cause of death and disability among adolescents. And here I am, in front of you, a specimen of these facts.
In the beginning of 2009, around midnight, I was driving home from a concert, sober, not texting, or on my phone, but I was going too fast. When I was about three miles from home, I somehow lost control and spun into a tree. The next thing I knew, it was months later and I didn’t know where I was. All I knew was that I was missing half my skull and my brain's gears weren't up to the task of understanding yet. I couldn’t walk, let alone speak.
Fast forward and here I am in front of you. These past two and a half years have been filled with nonstop therapy and school to recover as much of myself as possible. Time has stopped for me. I’m stuck in neutral. My friends have continued forward and left me in the dust. Before my accident, I had a large group of friends and I was constantly out with them. Now, my friends feel awkward, not knowing how to treat or act around me. Before the accident, I often went to concerts. Now, I have yet to go to one. Before the accident, I was constantly out seeing movies. Only recently have I been able to follow the story line of a full length film. Before the accident, I had a season pass to go snowboarding. This past winter, was the first time I was able to be on a board again trying to regain my skills. My processing speed is slower, my vision is not the same; neither is my balance. Before the accident I would be out with friends every weekend playing video games. I don’t have the dexterity to play them now. Before my accident, I was accepted into my first-choice college, but now I am just working to recover some of the skills that I lost; in high school of all places! My future may or may not include college.
Although my life has been changed dramatically, I have tried to make the best of my situation and have found positive experiences. For instance I'm glad I've had this opportunity to be involved with your program. Maybe my story will influence others to not make the same, or similar mistakes.
I am here today to tell you that the projects you have developed for this event will be helpful even if you only save one teen’s life from a car crash. It’s easy for us to tune out adults when they tell us to slow down, not text, or don’t drink and drive. But maybe teens will listen to you. Hopefully, your messages will open the eyes and ears of those who need them most, the teens of New Jersey, including your friends.