“When Sean Speaks” Burke County High Schools Presentations

When Sean Speaks Presentation at Freedom High School, Monday, Sept 14, 2015, by Rhonda Cook for BSAN

4628097Sean Carter and his mom, Jenny, came to Morganton on September 14 and 15, 2015 with a powerful message about circumstances and choices that Sean made that placed him in a wheelchair unable to talk or walk. The “When Sean Speaks” presentation was brought the four Burke County high schools by the Valdese Pilot Club, sponsored by Erie Insurance, the Rostan Foundation, and Carolinas Healthcare Blue Ridge, along with other community supporters.

Upon introducing his story, Sean’s mom, Jenny, let the crowd of sophomores, juniors, and seniors at Freedom High School know that Sean’s choices could have been different the night of the tragic car crash. That he could have had a conversation with the driver, saying “you’re my designated driver and my life is in your hands.” He also could have had enough care for himself to know that he did not have to be out on a Saturday night drinking like “everyone else” was doing.

The presentation started with a video of Sean’s mom taking care of him the first months after his crash during a coma from which he was not expected to come out of. Jenny shared a couple of facts: Traffic crashes are the number one killer of teens. And nearly 1/3 of these crashes involve alcohol.

Sean does not speak because of injuries incurred in the accident. He typed  on an iPad, and broadcast his thoughts to the students through speakers about what happened before and after the life-changing accident.

“Society glamorizes alcohol so much, but it doesn’t show what happens as a result,” shared Sean, a former fashion model going to college. “Like other guys I knew, a good time could only be had with a beer in my hand. If I only knew then what I know now…” he added about his years as a college student in Texas.

“What I did was something too many people have done before ma and too many will continue to do.”

Sean’s mom then described the scene of the accident. He had been riding as the passenger in a Dodge Ram pickup with a bench seat. His body had been thrown against the tree that the pickup was wrapped around during the accident. She described the intensity of his physical injuries and the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) that were caused, adding that 90% of the people who sustain his particular TBI never come out of their coma. Sean was an exception.

“You probably think, like I did, ‘that will never happen to me’, but do you really want to take that chance?” Sean asked the students. “I now realize I was not mature enough to handle alcohol.”

Sean challenged the Freedom High School students to wait until they are of legal age to drink alcohol. “Why did I not care enough about myself to wait?” he asked.

“Please think of me before you get into a car with a friend who has been drinking.”

Sean and Jenny opened the discussion for questions. The high school students asked for information about the driver of the Dodge truck, and Jenny shared that the driver had a .23 blood alcohol level – 3 times the legal limit. After anwering several other questions about Sean’s family and his likes and dislikes, Jenny asked the students to think about Sean if they’re ever in an uncomfortable situation because it might save their lives.

The YouTube video above was from a presentation in 2009. Although Sean Carter can no longer walk or talk,, he has a powerful message to share with young people about living with the consequences of your choices. He issues a challenge to teens and young adults to stay drug and alcohol free. Be wise, Be Safe!

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