Today during our Road Sense assembly, we had a very special guest at our school, Kevin Brooks. Kevin was involved in a tragic car accident in 2000. He was driving home from a party with his long time friend Brendon Beuk in the passenger seat. Kevin was intoxicated and ignored his friends who told him he should not be driving and should take a taxi instead. But he had done this many times before, so he chose to drive again. This time while driving he came across an intersection, a right turn would have taken him home, but he chose to turn left to head to another party. He was intoxicated and he decided speeding at a residential street 5 minutes away from his home, when he failed to take a corner and crashed, which caused his car to roll over a couple times before it landed on its roof. The accident left Kevin paralyzed from the waist down and caused his friend Brendon to lose his life. . “It all comes to making one bad choice,” Kevin says.
Now, from his wheelchair he is an inspirational public speaker, who shares his story of the night that changed his life with students all around North America (he has visited all provinces and 24 states to share his story) to emphasize the importance of making good choices and the consequences of distracted and impaired driving, hoping to prevent anything like this from happening again; the struggles he faced and the pain of losing a friend.
At the hospital after the crash, the doctors told his parents that he only had a 20% chance of living. He had dislocated his left shoulder, separated his right shoulder, and had a collapsed lung. On top of all this, he wouldn’t be able to walk anymore. The doctors had to make a hole in his throat to allow him to breathe, which caused him to be speechless for weeks. When he was able to move his lips, his first question was “why can’t I move?” His parents were hesitant to let him know what happened believing that he would give up on life after hearing that he won’t be able to walk and that he caused the death of his childhood friend.
He once again arrived at an intersection and he had to choose either to live or to give up and die. However, when Kevin learned that Brandon’s parents supported him following the crash and forgave him, he was at first surprised. Then he realized that this was his second chance in life and he decided to do something positive with it. This made him find his life’s purpose, which was helping younger generations to avoid the same mistakes that he did. He hopes that with these speeches, he can motivate and inspire people, especially high school students, to make safer choices and to save people’s lives, which might bring a positive outcome to this tragedy. Sometimes he still feels like he cannot make it through the day, but then he always remembers the forgiveness of Brandon’s family and his promise to so many people, including his family and friends, to never quit.
Furthermore, on the stage beside him he had 3 empty chairs. He said “These are for my friends, Brendon Beuk, Jordan Baker Fisher and Christopher Roy Whitmee who aren’t around any longer, but they are always here with me by my side. “ Jordan tragically took his own life and was the victim of suicide while Christopher was a recent victim of gang violence.
After listening to his story about the harmful consequences of dangerous and drink driving, Kevin taught us all how lucky we are to be able to just wiggle our toes. This is in fact Kevin’s motto and slogan throughout social media… ‘Just Wiggle Your Toes’ and don’t take life’s little things for granted.