Unedited and without names for privacy reasons:
RECENT EMAILS/LETTERS RECEIVED:
Tenafly HS Senior: I’m a senior at Tenafly High School. I would just like to say thank you for coming to my school and speaking today. Your story is beyond inspiring. I found it to be so powerful that I actually shared it with the rest of my family when i got home.
A lot of times kids leave a school assembly and completely forget what they just heard. But your message stuck. My classmates were buzzing about your talk. They were telling their teachers about your story. Friends were talking about it in the hallway. And I have probably told it at least four times just today. It is inspiring to see someone take a horrific personal experience and use it to make a change in society.
Thank you again for sharing your story. And thank you for the positive impact you have made on many others, including myself. I can promise you that I will not be drunk driving in my lifetime.
Ridgefield Park HS Senior: Hi. You came in and spoke to us Thursday 5/25. I don’t even know where to start by saying that your story was the most inspirational story I have heard. Throughout the whole story, I would of never believed that you were talking about yourself. You have inspired me and my friends in so many ways. When i got home that day, i told my family about you, they were so amazed. Thank you so much for taking your time to come speak to us!
Bogota HS Sophomore: One word: Inspirational! This morning’s presentation opened up my eyes. I thought it would be like every other DWI presentation, but I was completely wrong! I would never have imagined that victim would have been you. You are like a miracle man. In my opinion, you were born on this planet for that specific reason: to inspire teenagers and flip their perspective of DWI. I never thought it was that bad, in fact, I would always get in cars with intoxicated people, thinking NOTHING could ever happen. This presentation really touched my heart, and I never thought someone could get to me as much as you did. You are a courageous, strong, valiant, patron, brave, fearless benefactor, determined person. You are a hero… Point blank.
United States Senator: Steve, You are an inspiration & great servant leader who has turned a personal trial into countless triumphs for others.
High School Student: You are a hero. As a teenager, a lot of the kids like to be careless and get drunk, I’m not a part of that clique and their stupidity can cause a lot of danger. But it is people like you who make the world a much better place, it is so great that you want to prevent drunk driving. I’m inspired by people like you, because if something god-forsaken happens to me, I know a still have hope. Please keep up the amazing work, you are doing an excellent job.
Fair Lawn HS Junior: Hi Steven, I go to fair lawn high. I was absolutely moved by your speech and the optimum recovery you battled through. I wanted to thank you very much for taking your own time too share that magnificent story with us. I am going to college next year and that story will forever be with me and the contract as well, thank you! Good luck with your speeches in the future you are a great speaker and stay strong.
Viewer who saw a DWI TV appearance: Hi Steven, I’m watching you now on In Session and wanted to thank you for your message and your extremely generous charity work. I wanted to promise you (from Massachusetts) to keep your story in mind as yet another reason to not drink and drive. I’m “legal,” in my 20s, but I realize that doesn’t make me invincible.
Thanks again and I am glad you made it out of your accident alive. Your parents must be really, seriously proud of you.
Somerville HS Senior: Hi Mr. Benvenisti, I attended your seminar at my school, Somerville High School, and I just wanted to tell you how much it impacted me and some of my friends. Your story is an amazing story and you have a lot of courage to relive your story everyday as you share your message. You have inspired me and what you are doing is truely remarkable. I will do my best to share your story and live my life in a responsible way. Thanks again for sharing your story with me.
Bergen HS Senior: I absolutely loved the presentation. I must say that was the best presentation we had in high school! It really hit me hard because I know people that had their lives taken away because of a drunk driver and to see what happened to you, Steven Benvenisti, that you’re walking, talking, reading just let me know miracles do happen. You have shown me that you can overcome anything!
Nutley HS Senior: I don’t know if you remember, my boyfriend actually came up to you after your assembly and spoke to you I was a little nervous to introduce myself. I just want to say that your story was truly amazing. I’m so glad that you came to our school to speak to us. It made me so happy to find out that you are ok and healthy! May God bless you, and thank you so much!!
Botota HS Junior: Mr. Benvenisti, I have never been so shocked in my entire life. You are such an inspiration to me. After seeing living proof that anything can happen if you try, I am so inspired to chase my goal. I am a 17 year-old junior and my dream is to become a veterinarian. Everyone I tell that to just looks at me and I can see the doubt on their faces. Because of them, I would doubt myself a lot but because of you I am so determined to show everyone that I am capable of catching my dream. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, you really did change many lives today.
Bogota HS Sophmore: Personally, I was in awe when I heard the ending of this man’s message. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the photos as I was sure that this man had to be dead. I am inspired by his story as I now realize that it is possible to overcome any situation no matter how devasting it my be. I was also very touched to now see that he has become a very successful attorney. Steven Benvenisti will always be a role model for teens everywhere.
Fair Lawn HS student: This assembly was probably one of the most memorable assemblies I’ve been to. When you were was talking about this college student’s condition after the accident, I thought to myself that this student would be physically and mentally impaired for the rest of his life or maybe dead by now. When you revealed that you were the college student, it took me a moment to process it because it is amazing how he fully recovered from that and had the courage to talk about something so traumatic. The impact it had on me was that with determination you can overcome anything. It also made me thnk of a quote I heard “The harder the fall, the greater the ascension” You are living proof that this quote speaks true.
Bogota HS Sophomore (to a teacher): The presentation was absolutely shocking because I would never have expected the speaker to be the victim. He portrayed himself so well and in full detail that I would have never assumed it to be him. It was inspiring because he had to learn how to do everyting all over again. He learned how to carry himself when he has fallen. He learned he can overcome anything he sets his mind to, and he did. He managed to become a successful lawyer and have 2 kids and a family of his own. I just want to thank him for being strong and powerful persoan to be sharing his experience with the world.
Nutley High School Senior: It was an amazing speech
Wood-Ridge HS Senior: I mean I can’t even describe the feeling I had when I heard your story. It takes a lot of courage to even relive that moment with many different schools. I just think about all those different people that have been in a similar accident and weren’t even close to living and those families that cared and lost a part of their lives. That story can change millions of peoples lives because it makes anything possible. Thank you for coming to my high school. Your story touched me and everyone else.
High Point HS from a Teacher/Coach: What a great assembly that was on Thursday regarding drunk driving!! The students in my afternoon classes and on my golf team were raving about the presentation. The message was spot on, and it came across to the kids as sincere and not preachy. They were really impacted by that speaker.
Bergen County newspaper: I have been a photographer for over 20 years and have attended many DWI, AAA, etc. presentations. I have also photographed dozens of auto accidents caused by DWI, so you may understand that I have grown somewhat desensitized, it comes with the job. For what its worth, however I consider your talk at Fair Lawn High School by far the best I have ever heard on this subject and I was truly impressed. God Bless You– I really think you saved some lives today.
Bergen HS Student: Your presentation was the most moving story I have ever heard (and I hear a lot of stories). Your story really got me thinking. Of all the stories I have heard, yours really hit me. You were an athlete, with a whole great life ahead of you. But when that happened instead of your family and you giving up, you guys kept hope. On that tenth day when you opened your eyes, I’m sure all your family regained all hope, if any lost. From there it was success, and you never gave up. Mr. Benvenisti, you taught me two lessons, not only to not drink, especially not drink and drive, but also to never give up and never lose hoped. Whenever I am going through a hard time, you are one of the things I will think about, how you went through the extremely hard time you went through and you pushed through. Your success story is one I will never forget. If you are ever in doubt that your story got through to someone, don’t doubt, because your story got through to me, your message was received.
Park Ridge HS student: Thank you for coming to our school and sharing your tragic story. The fact that you made a complete recovery and that your friends and family were always there with you touched me. It really opened my eyes as to what can happen to others or myself if there was someone who was intoxicated. Once again thank you for coming and sharing your story.
Bogota HS Senior: I was in attendance for your assembly @ Bogota High School the other day, and I am 100% honest saying your story is maybe the single most inspiring story ive ever heard in person.
After hearing what you went through and how you defied almost everything in your full recovery is remarkable…. I wanted to go shake your hand, but i was forced to class…
I will continue to tell everyone your story, and do everything in my power to prevent drunk driving….
As an athlete as well It is very inspiring, I run cross country and track, when im out there this weekend at the county championships when im feeling the pain i now can think to myself, steven benevisti was in a coma, and was thought to not walk again…and look at him now. i can push through this pain…. Im going to try and win, and win in everything i do now and take nothing for granted… and try to help others and keep my friends, loved ones and everyone safe……… And if i need law work, my stepdads a lawyer, but im calling you first!!
Thank you so much, your 45 minutes of talking changed me in many ways you have no idea.
High Point HS Teacher/Counselor: Hey did I tell you that my students came in to class 2nd period the other day and they were blown away by the message that they heard from the lawyer. They were so excited that they wouldn’t let me begin my lesson before we had discussed it. I wish i could have been there by the way they were talking about it
Bergen County parent:My daughter came home a few weeks ago and said
“I have to tell you about this assembly”. (Kind of odd, because I usually don’t
hear much about actual in-school events.)
It wasn’t until a week later that she began to tell me about your story. And,
she recalled every detail — including the moment all of the students realized
that YOU were the kid that survived.
So, I wanted to drop you a note and say “thank you”. You made an impact on
quite a few teens — and, hopefully they’ll think twice. Best wishes and continued success.
Bergen HS Senior to teacher: I thought the assembly was so amazing. The speaker was phenominal. He sent a great message to everybody. I was telling everybody when I got home. Mr. Benvenisti was shocking and amazing. He really touched me in my heart! He was the best speaker ever!!
Wood-Ridge HS student: When you came to my school and told your story I was overwhelmed. It touched me the most when you said how you were so happy in your life. I really appreciate you coming to visit Wood-Ridge high school. I know that your accident must be very heard to talk about as often as you do. Your story changed the way I thought of any kind of accidents. I have seen many accidents and have been in one myself but they are nothing compared to yours. Thank you very much. I really appreciate it.
HS Special Ed. Teacher & Health Care Provider: How incredible! Wait till you meet my clients, they are so impaired compared to him…. amazing, if they saw him they would be soooooooooooooo jealous. What an event.. Nice job! The message may save a life.. worth a day of missed class work, don’t you think? It would be to me if it was my kid, that’s for sure.
Nanuet HS Student: I just wanted to send you an e-mail on behalf of everyone who went to the SADD conference from Nanuet saying thank you so much for coming
out and telling us your story. It really hit home with all of us students and we are hoping that you can come and speak to the kids at our school. Your story
is a story we will never forget and I know that I, as well as others, will always make the right decision to never get behind a vehicle if I have been
drinking or anything. Again, thank you so much and we hope to see you soon.
Ridgefield Park HS Senior: I was just sitting in your assembly about drunk driving. Let me tell you something, i have seen a lot of assemblies while being a student. Your assembly was the most amazing assembly i have ever seen in my entire life, i still cant get over how amazing it was. I was in schock yet i was inspired. I have never in my life heard such an amazing story. After i left your assembly i legit texted my mom and my best friend and my brother and told them about it because i couldnt believe it. When you hear a story like that you usually think as soon as it starts that the person in the story isnt alive, and personally thats what i was thinking. When you told us who that person was i have never been more shocked in my life. Your story is amazing and it truly was an inspiration and a message.
Rockland HS Senior: I’ve always felt alone but, a fire in me always kept me moving forward. Your story has given me a new found hope; one unlike the one that I had before, it will never die. Again thank you, your presentation has had a more significant impact on me than just alarming me about the dangers of drunk driving. It had given me the resolve to never ever give up.
Nutley HS senior: Your presentation was incredible, especially since it completely threw me off balance. Personally the presentation inspired me that you can do anything and no matter what the circumstance is, anything is possible. You pushed me into believing if I really want something and I work hard, I can achieve it. Also, I will now be more aware if I am around friends who drink and drive. Just refusing them can save lives and living in guilt.
Bogota HS Junior: I wasn’t only surprised about your complete and miraculous recovery, but also at your attitude. You did not show any bitterness or hatred towards the driver who hit you, but was content with your life. One message you gave was “Don’t drink and drive” but another message was “There is nothing you can’t overcome”.
High Point HS Teacher’s Aid: I’ve heard SO MANY students commenting on how great this morning’s presentation was. A lot of positive comments came from students that I wouldn’t have expected to hear them from. Nice going!
Park Ridge HS Teacher: Just as an aside, we are currently reading The Great Gatsby, and in one chapter, a car accident results from drinking and driving. One of my students, raised his hand and said, “See, if he had his contract he wouldn’t have got into an accident!” I was so impressed with him mentioning your contract and I have to say that although this student can be sarcastic, he was dead serious when he brought that point up. You definitely had an impact on him! Thanks again for coming to our school and if you do end up at Park Ridge I will definitely try to come back and watch a second time!
Bogota HS Teacher: What a wonderful presentation! You were amazing and I know you had a great impact on the students. When you left, a student went to guidance to talk about a situation in her family because she was so moved. We talk about touching at least one student, today you touched many. Again, thank you for your words and inspiration,
Suffern HS Senior: Today i saw your seminar at Suffern High School and i must say you were one of the most powerful speakers i ever saw. the school typically gets a drug user that tells the sad story of his life or has a Representative from a group come and spit numbers to us but i think what made your seminar so powerful was we heard from the victim and saw the results. even as i sit at my desk at home writing to you i still can not get over how powerful it was to see your presentation and to see your dedication in such a noble cause. when i showed my parents the contract they signed it right away and said “hes 100% right we want a call from you not the hospital. i just have two questions though.
1) has your life experience had any effect on your spiritual life? 2) do you think you can ever forgive the driver? once again i just want to say how moved i am by your presentation and i want to thank you for coming to my school and sharing that experience with us all.
May God bless you on all of your endeavours
Westwood HS Teacher: Just more than a year ago, I was fortunate enough to see your presentation about your “toughest case.” Afterwards, you kindly spoke to my students at Westwood Regional High School; it was one of the most powerful presentations I’ve brought to high school students.
Somerville HS Senior: Hello I am a senior at Somerville High School. You came to my school a few weeks ago and i just wanted to take the time to thank you for that speech/ presentantion, this really impacted me, and i view things diffrently now beacuse of it. Also you spoke to us right before our prom weekend and that was really beneficial to our senior class i believe. This really opened our eyes in many diffrent aspects. Also i want to tell you that your story is exteamly inspirational and that you have a huge testimony to tell and that will leave people shocked and tearing. Thank you for your time. Blessings to you and your family.
Bogota HS Senior: When you were talking about the kid that got wrecked in an accident, I felt bad. I thought you were just one of those persons who talk about problems in the worldbut have no experience to what they were saying. You proved me wrong. When you told us it was you, it was a real eye opener. You inspired me to keep my friends or anyone tht has been drinking from driving. You ahve also made my own personal “hero list” because you didn’t give up even though the odds were against you. Also, because instead of holding a grudge to the person who inflicted that damage in your life you just went on with your life, being a successful attorney. Now you have two beautiful kids and I am sure your wife is beautiful as well. You Steven Benvenisti have inspired me to never give up even when the odds are against me and for that I thank you.
Teaneck parent: You were so great this morning. As always when I hear you do your presentation you leave me speechless. Thank you for sharing it. I am glad my daughter had a chance to hear you.
Ridgefield Park HS Senior: I attend Ridgefield Park HS, i just wanted to congratulate you.. you did an amazing job today at the assembly. Your speech was so motivational and it really did bring tears to my eyes and i think i could speak for everyone wen i say that. Im so amazed that after such a tragic accident, you seem to be so happy in life. It makes my high school drama problems seeem to pathetic ; ) Thank you so much for coming and i loved your speech!
HS Teacher: You probably get a thousand emails each time you give your presentation. I’m sorry to add to your load but you did say a couple of times that people could email you.
I was struck by your story. Thank you for sharing it. I teach psychology here and so much of what you said can be used in class. Ultimately though, I know that the kids we highly impacted by your presentation. I walked away thinking about how many lives you are (undoubtedly and unknowingly) saving each time you give your presentation.
Your contract is going up on the walls of my classroom.
Thank you again,
North Bergen HS Senior: Hello, Mr. Benvenisti you visited my school, North Bergen High School today in which I wanted to be able to speak with you after your very emotional yet very motivating heartfelt speech. Unfortunately when the Prosecuting attorney of North Bergen was speaking I was suspended from school, unjustly I might add, but that’s a story for another day. I remember when you were speaking I was thinking to myself, this story can’t be true because the defendant would have been charged in criminal court, yet you are an injury attorney. Of course all this was resolved when you reveled that you were the one who was injured. Your story honestly motivated me even more then I was before which I used to doubt as impossible. I one day hope to become a criminal attorney and seek justice for all the victims, and I sincerely hope that your ambitions of creating stronger laws and spreading your message is fulfilled. I just wanted to be able to offer my help, if there’s anything you would like me to do to help spread your message I would like to lend you my assistance. Everything that you said in that auditorium today, sounded so very familiar to something that was always told to me as a child, “That the Blessing is in the Struggle”. Honestly Mr. Benvenisti I can’t explain the feeling that I get from knowing that you overcame all the obstacles that were put in front of you. That you proved all those Doctors and so called professionals wrong. I’ve heard my fair share of motivational speakers come and talk at our school, and they always say that they hope that could at least “effect” or get their “message” across to one person it would be worth it. I just wanted to let you know that you have spread your message and out of all the motivational speakers to come to our school, you were most definitely the most sincere and for that I would like to say Thank you, for all the students at North Bergen High School.
Bergen HS Junior: Your story was a very good story. it really inspired me and taught me the consequences of drinking and driving. Because of your story, I am never going to drink and drive ever! Thank you for coming to our school and telling your story.
Bergen Sophmore letter to teacher: People say things and make speeches about DUI’s all the time but none of them have inspired me like today’s speaker (Steven Benvenisti). He started out talking about how great the college student’s life was. After talking about his life he started telling us about one horrific night. While soberly walking back to his hotel on Spring Break, he got struck by a drunk driver. His whole body got crushed, broken and thrown 70 feet into the air. He was immediately transported to the nearest hospital after losing tons of blood. He sat in a coma for 10 days when suddenly he opened his eyes. Even thought he didn’t remember much he was still alive and getting better. He is now the man you see today, Steven Benvenisti, a successful walking and talking attorney. He goes around schools telling his story to the world.
This has inspired me so much that if you try hard enough you can do anything. Steven Benvenisti taught me to never give up and persevere and then you can accomplish ANYTHING!
Bogota HS Sophmore: I learned in your assembly the importance of how dangerous drunk driving is. Your story was inspriational because it makes me place myself in your shoes and wonder if I could have recouperated from a severe injury like the one you suffered and if I could have accopmplished everything you accomplished. Your story makes me wonder how I would have dealt with that situation if I was the drunken driver and I hit someone and caused an injury like the one that happened to you and how I would be able to deal with myself.
Plainfield HS Senior: i would like to share your story with the people I mostly love beacuse i know that no one is perfect so maybe they could see that life has a beautiful meaning, because you could learn from people’s mistakes. It is said that smart people would learn from their mistakes but wise peole would learn from other poples mistakes. This is the reason why I would like to share this with my family.
HS parent: I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your efforts to keep our teens safe. My son and his friends were so impressed by you. It was an honor to tell them that I know you.
Pascack Hills HS Senior: I was absolutely captivated by your incredible story–so much so that I cried! You are the most inspirational speaker I’ve ever heard and your story is truly a miracle.
Pascack Hills HS Junior: I was a member of the audience in the presentation that you conducted. I wanted to send you an email to assure you that your message was received for sure! I thank you for giving such a powerful presentation and dedicating your life to helping others suffering personal injury victims…
I think that thanks to your presentation, I have found a type of law that I am extremely interested in pursuing. Your story is extremely touching and will without a doubt stick with me. Again, I just wanted to email you to thank you for coming to our school and using your time to share with us your story..it was amazing!
Bogota HS Sophmore to teacher: When I heard this story about a man being hit by a drunk driver, I thought it was going to be another story about some kid who wasn’t paying attention to the road. This story has touched me because I felt the pain this man went through trying to learn how to read and write all over again is very hard to do. I think that Steven Benvenisti was very strong and very confident to start alot of his life all over again. That is very inspiring to many children and adults, especially me. I want to thank Steven Benvenisti for inspiring me not to drink and drive!
Pascack Hills HS Freshman: I wanted to thank you for taking time out of your schedule to come talk to my school about the traumatic experience you went through during your college experience. I was very moved by your story… Your message was definitely received and I am very glad that you came to speak with us about it.
Pascack Valley HS Seniors: We are students at Pascack Valley High School. The assembly today was one of the best assemblies we have ever seen. It was really inspiring and we will remember what you said for our entire lives. We really appreciate you coming to our school and your story that you shared with us. We hope you come back again next year!
Pascack Valley Senior who has seen seminar before: After listening to your speech today I was deeply moved. I had a sense of deja vu the whole time as if I had heard your story before, and then someone told me you gave us the same presentation a few years ago when we were in middle school participating in the junior police academy. I just wanted to say that i thought your story was incredible and it is amazing how far you have come. Your story was even better the second time i heard it, especially now that I’m older and can relate more. I hope other kids who hear your story enjoy it as much as I did, and are just as inspired as I was. Thank you.
Solomon Schector School Administration: The kids have not stopped talking about the program and so many of them have told me how much they appreciated hearing your story and the underlying message.
Bergen County Parent on Contract For Life: People many times are eager to send an email when unhappy or to complain. I was happy to hear of your work. I have been trying to send this thank you email to you for some time. You came to Indian Hills High School in Oakland a couple months ago. Our kids need good roll models, that we lack of so many now our days. My daughter was there to hear you and was just a great way to encourage her to continue doing well. Our kids are under so much pressure. Thank you for using your personal experience to let our kids know the truth and a wake up call.
Thank you very much again for your time. I know you will be paid in many other ways that money cannot buy. Continue to shine.
High School Parent: My 15-year-old son seldom texts me during the day from school. He made an exception this morning, and his words say it all: “That speaker was unbelievable. He was fantastic. Great job.” I asked how others reacted and he replied: “Everyone loved it. We are talking about it in class and everyone was moved. No one expected it to be him. Everyone was so touched.” Thank you for your remarkable efforts to raise awareness in such a meaningful and powerful way.
Middle School Parent regarding son: My son is a recruit in the River Vale Jr. Police Academy and I was one of the parents who heard you speak last night. I want to thank you, you have an incredible story. It touch my heart and made me cry. It also made my son and his friends think which makes you a wonderful person. I hope you continue to talk to kids for a very long time, I believe it made a difference. We signed the contract and talked about it greatly as soon as we got home. Thank you!
Middle School Parent: That was an amazing story. My daughter and I talked about you all the way home and then again with her mom once we got home. I think the kids really took your message away with them. Other than dropping the bomb that it was your story, I think that you were very effective because you were talking to them rather than preaching to them. If one kid changes their future behavior, you were successful, except I think you’ll change more than just one.
From parent on Contract For Life: I was a long time Teaneck resident and now live in Closter. I saw your Contract for Life and think it is brilliant. My son just started Columbia and he does not drink but was around it in high school. I may have six drinks a year at most but have never had a drink in front of my children because I believe you teach children by example. It is obvious to me that you have been a tremendous success story and have given a lot of yourself.
Berkeley College Teacher: Thank you so much for today. The students who came (45) were so moved and inspired by your presentation. I heard many of them telling their friends. It’s so difficult to get our students to come out sometimes. The students who came were many of our student leaders. In addition to such a thought-provoking presentation I saw this as an opportunity for our students to see an inspirational and positive role model. Many of our students don’t have postive role models and often lack support at home. The time you took to talk to them after the presentation meant a lot to them. Many of our students struggle academically so in addition to the message “Don’t drink and drive” they took away the message that anything is possible with determination. I appreciate the fact that you waved your fee- that was very generous of you. Please know you made an impact…It was a great presentation and I am so glad you are alright after that ordeal and have found such a wonderful way to add a positive spin to such a tragedy. Let me know the details on the charities we can make a donation to.
Ridgefield Park HS Senior: You came into my school and told us your story. Your story was very inspirational and I hope that your story reaches out to all of the people to speak to. Thank you for making a difference at my school. There are so many kids who drink and drive and ones that are struck my intoxicated drivers.
From HS Faculty: There are not enough words to thank you for your presentation Monday. Even knowing your story it was just as impressive. We have received compliments from students, staff, administrators and parents yesterday and today about the important message your shared with all of us.
Bogota HS Sophmore: Your assembly this morning had a huge impact on me. It’s so amazing how you fought through all your medical complications and proved everyone wrong. I would have never thought that the pictures in the slides were you. It’s like you are a miracle man or something. I think you are the true definition of a hero. Personally, I don’t really like telling people about tragic things that have happened in my life so far. I admire you so much for having the strength to tell people about your story. I also admire you for being strong and not going after the man that did this to you. It really demonstrates your forgiveness towards others. I want to thank you for sharing this story with our school. I know I will never forget this story and most likely will tell it to my kids. You are my definition of a hero.
From HS Teacher: Thanks so much for today. I already received a parent phone call saying that her son saw a life changing assembly today. That makes all of your time and effort worth it.
From HS Teacher on Contract For Life: I wanted to let you know, I heard from one student who thanked me for bringing the program in and was so moved by your story/message, that he called his parent afterward and discussed the contract with them. Pretty powerful I would say. Thanks again
Wood-Ridge HS Senior: I can honestly say with all the assemblies i’ve been to over the years, this is the most touching and my favorite by far. You really put this feeling in my head that it can truely happen to anyone. All throughout the day, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I thought about what would I do if this happened to my cousins or older friends. Your really put drinking and driving in a new perspective for me. Your story really helped me realize how dangerous it is and i’ve told several people about it so far. I really, really want to thank you for everything and I wish you well. I just want to mention, i can’t even describe to people how much you’ve touched me.
Wood-Ridge HS Senior: Your story made me realize that we need to live life to the fullest. Once you revealed that student was you, tears started building up in my eyes. I will never forget your story. Thank you for coming to my school.
Paramus HS Teacher: Thank you again for making such an impact on our senior class. I had several students come to my office yesterday to thank me for bringing you. I am so thankful!
Wood-Ridge HS Senior: I will never drink and then get into a car and drive. I wouldn’t want to make the same mistake that the guy made on that night when he hit you. Thank you again for sharing your story.
Bergen Technical School Senior: I’m one of the seniors who attended the assembly on drunk driving that you presented yesterday. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me.
My grandfather was on his way to work and was killed instantly when a man in a stolen car was driving while intoxicated in the wrong lane and crashed into him from the side. My cousin, who is like a sister to me, was also just in a car accident, hit by a drunk driver. I thank God that she only injured her leg, as it could have been so much worse.
Whenever I expressed my apprehension about one of my friends who had been drinking wanting to drive after a party, no one understood why I feel the way I do, even when I told them the experience I’d been through.
Hearing about my grandfather was not enough. It still didn’t seem real to them. Seeing those photographs that you presented yesterday and realizing that someone like them could have gone through it made it real.
Right after the assembly, a friend, who is usually the worst offender with drunkenness and driving everyone home after a party, came up and hugged me, saying how sorry he was for never listening to me and swore that he would take me up on my offer to pick him up anytime, regardless of where he is, just to be sure that he’s safe.
You changed a lot of perspectives yesterday and I can’t express how grateful I am for visiting us.
Wood-Ridge HS Senior: I have signed your contract for life not to drink and drive and have taken it seriously. I also will continue to tell others your story so that they can change their ways of drinking and driving.
Ridgefield Park HS Parent: My son came home from school the other day (Ridgefield Park HS) and was ever so impacted by your seminar. I can honestly say that nothing phases my boy, but you sure did. He told me of your story with such interest and excitement. I’m glad to say that we have both signed the contract (which hangs in my home office) and must admit that it did open the door for he and I to have the discussion (in full) concerning drinking and driving. Thank you.
I applaud your tenacity, your will to live and how you have chosen to live your life since your near fatal accident. I too had my own near fatal incident when I was diagnosed with Leukemia 10 years ago. I underwent a bone marrow transplant in ’99 and shortly thereafter did my own “morale boosting” in the oncology unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital at the request of the nurses that cared for me. Since my son came home that day I have been seriously thinking about going back and speaking to the patients of my experience. I thank you for planting that seed.
I have been a legal secretary for almost 19 years and have yet to meet an attorney that is in the business with another purpose other than money. I applaud you.
I can’t say it enough…thank you.
Wood-Ridge HS Senior: Normally we hear assemblies telling us what not to do, but from your stroy we actually learned what can happen to us. Thank you so much for sharing your story.
Paramus HS Senior: I was one of the seniors present at your recent presentation of your story at Paramus High School today and I must say, quite a show and story it was. I was a little confused at first on how this would fit into the current senior mindstate and focus. I thought it was just another one of those “Don’t drink and drive” persausions, but when I saw that you were the very same victim you kept referring to, the one who had it so made and happy only to be so horrifically disfigured by such an accident, but to later be able to come out of it so rehabilitated and cured, I must say I found it quite inspiring. It wasn’t even so much the thought of the drinking and driving story that really got me, as I have heard it many times and know very well what it can do, but the fact that you could have overcome such odds, under such mental and physical breaks, to be the well person you are today is truly amazing. Surely as an attorney you know the value of experience, but to undermine and prove wrong so many doctors with loads of experience in coping with a condition you had never experienced before is truly an amazing feat. I hope to hear from you again about this, and I hope to be able to write to you again for anymore questions soon. But have a nice day.
High Point H.S. teacher/coach: What a great assembly that was on Thursday regarding drunk driving!! The students in my afternoon classes and on my golf team were raving about the presentation. The message was spot on, and it came across to the kids as sincere and not preachy. They were really impacted by that speaker.
Wood-Ridge HS Senior: You have encouraged me to do things that people tell me can’t be done and if you really put your mind to it, you can do anything. Thank you
Wood-Ridge HS Senior: I felt that you gave us a message about trying and going for your dreams, and don’t be afraid to tell someone to do something, because it can change someone’s life completely. The thing that inspired me the most is that you want to help others and how positive you are about life. I want to thank you for coming and teaching me something. From the girl that you inspired…
Wood-Ridge HS Senior: I know for sure that if I ever need to, I will be the designated driver for people who have been drinking. You have persuaded me to never drink and drive and to be the designated driver.
Wood-Ridge HS Senior: Thank you for coming to our school. You story was so inspiring and touching that we are all now influenced by your speech. I hope to become as successful as you one day.
Fair Lawn HS Senior: I will never forget this day or your story, thank you again.
Manchester HS Student: Now I am more aware of how important life is. I am thank ful that you took the time to come here and speak to us. You are a remarkable person! I am glad we have someone like you to teach us how to deal with situations like this and how to stay on the safe side. Thank you.
County SADD Advisors: Thank you so much for being a part of our 8th Annual Power of SADD Youth Convention. Your motivational presentation helped make our program a success. We received positive feedback from all who attended. Everyone was in agreement that you provided valuable informatin to help our students learn the importance of making smart decisions. We are very appreciative of the time and engergy you invested in our SADD community and look forward to hearing you speak at our Rockland County Schools in the near future. Again, many thanks and we sincerely look forward to working with you soon.
High Point HS Teacher’s Aid: I’ve heard SO MANY students commenting on how great this morning’s presentation was. A lot of positive comments came from students that I wouldn’t have expected to hear them from. Nice going!
Manchester HS Student: Your miraculous recovery taught me not to take anything for granted and to take precaution in everthing I do. You had a nice life before your accident; yet when you were fully recovered you somehow looked on the bright side. Most people wouldn’t be able to do that. Overall your experience really touched me and taught me lessones that I will use for the rest of my life.
Wood-Ridge HS Senior: Thank you for inspiring me to not drink and drive and to help others by donating to charities. Thank you for teaching me many life lessons.
West Milford HS Senior: You spoke at my school today and it really touched me. When you said that the boy was you I got goosebumps and I cried. I am proud to say that I am a senior and have yet to drink or do drugs. I dont plan on doing it either, and thats because I respect people and stories like yours. Hearing things like that does not effect some people, but it really made an impact on my decisions throughout my life. Your story is a true miracle. I am so glad that things worked out for you so well. Keep speaking at schools because it really does help. And just know that you are helping so many people. Thank you again.
Wood-Ridge HS Senior: I am so thankful that you came and made not just me but everyone in the school more aware of what can happen and the reality of drinking and driving.
Wood-Ridge HS Senior: I am sure that your speech made many of the students in our school more aware of drunk drivers. You will surely influence the lives of many people and prevent the same thing that happened to you from happening to anybody else.
Paramus HS Senior: I am one of the students that heard your seminar at Paramus High School. I just wanted to tell you how touching your story was. It is amazing that you could survive all that damage. I may not be safe, but I know that in choosing not to drink, I am not going to drive while intoxicated and destroy somebody else’s life.
High Point HS health care provider: How incredible! Wait till you meet my clients, they are so impaired compared to him…. amazing, if they saw him they would be soooooooooooooo jealous. What an event.. Nice job! The message may save a life.. worth a day of missed class work, don’t you think? It would be to me if it was my kid, that’s for sure.
Middlesex HS Parent: I just wanted to thank you so much for coming to Middlesex High School yesterday. I admire so much your perseverance in all you have gone through. You certainly are an amazing person. My son was in the audience yesterday, and I just wanted you to know how much you touched him. He is an honor roll student who is very active in Basketball and Baseball and is only a sophomore, but is very wise to the world to know what is right and wrong. Although I know he is a good guy and would never think of drinking let alone drinking and driving so far, to hear your story at such a crucial time (he gets his permit in June) was truly inspiring and reassuring him that his beliefs are the right path unlike many teens today. I know how great the peer pressure is (I was a teen once myself). But I have always preached to him that wherever he was, if he needed a ride or to get out of an uncomfortable situation, all he had to do was call me, no questions asked.
I thank you for reaffirming this with your wonderful contract. I also have a 17 year old daughter who is a senior, but unfortunately did not get to hear your speech as she was at Princeton University that day for her Material Science class. But my son came home and shared your speech in detail to our entire family and showed me your pamphlet. I have made a copy of it and will have both sign it. Thanks again for sharing your life story with us. It was truly inspiring, and I feel will help to keep many kids in Middlesex High School thinking twice about drinking and driving. Thanks again!
Wood-Ridge HS Senior: Your story inspired me as well as my fellow classmates. Your story inspired me to not drink and drive because I’m putting other peoples’ lives in danger as well. Your story inspired me to set up a system with my friends so that we always have a person that will be the driver who won’t drink.
Wood-Ridge HS Senior: I would just like to thank you for coming to our school and sharing your inspirational story. You’ve shown me and many others that it was possible to overcome any obstacle that life gives you. I have learned the lesson to not drink and drive and I encourage you to teach others the same. You are truly the idol for others who were in a similar situation. I hope that your story touches other people like the way it touched me.
Wood-Ridge HS Senior: As I listened to your story, I felt your pain and kept wondering who this boy was. I wondereed what happened to him and thought there was definitely a 99% chance that he died or is still in a serious condition. It amazed me when you said tht the boy was you. Your story was tragic. I believe you may be the only man who has ever survived in those conditions and even went on to become an attorney. You really raised the bar by becoming something great. I really took in your story and thought about the drunk drivers out there. I realized I don’t want ot be one of those drivers. I do not even want to take a risk of possibly taking away someones life or giving them injuries. Thank you for coming to my school and changing the lives of many teenagers about drunk driving.
Fair Lawn HS Senior: I appreciate you coming to our school to tell us about your inspiring story. I could not even imagine how much you had to go through and it really made me aware of how many people die because of drunk drivers. You have inspired me in many ways. If I was ever put in your situation, I would have never believed that I would be able to recover. You went above and beyond and became a lawyer of your own case. You are a great inspiring speaker and thank you for speaking to us and taking your time to tell us your story.
A reader of a book with my story: My name is Officer ******with the West Paterson Police currently assigned as the School Resource Officer for grades K-8. I found your name in a book I am reading (listen to their Cries) by Vincent Bove. I found your story to be inspiring.
Bogota HS student letter to teacher: I was touched about this man’s life because this inspires people or at least most to not give up in life. You should also be very grateful with your life because we don’t know when we really go, I mean die. This life that he passed through may save many other lives by him showing what he went through. I also think that Steven Benvenisti is very brave to go up there and talk about his accident to so many different people. It is very diffiuclt to talk about the past if something terrible happened t you or anyone. I think it’s great that there are people grateful that they are alive because now in days you see this a lot in the news, people killing people or even people commiting suicide instead of being grateful of the life that they now have. Also, if that person dies that day I always believe that maybe G-d had a better purpose for them and you’re alive. I also think he has a purpose to give a better chance like a miracle for others to believe that miracles can happen.
Westwood HS teacher: Dear Steven, just more than a year ago, I was fortunate enough to see your presentation about your “toughest case.” Afterwards, you kindly spoke to my students at Westwood Regional High School; it was one of the most powerful presentations I’ve brought to high school students.
Bergen HS Sophmore: I was in the assembly listening to your advice about drinking and driving and that it’s the wrong path to go. But as you said everyone has a story about themself. As I was listening to your remarkable story, I wouldn’t expect it would be you. All of the pain, heart breaking, sorrow that someone could ever go through. When someone is so innocent, I was so shocked and inspired to hear and feel your story. Mr. Steven, I am proud of you even though I don’t know you.
Bogota HS Sophmore: Steven Benvenisti, your message to me this morning was to never drink and drive because you’ll never know what will happen. If you make a wrong mistake, you’ll have to live wtiht he consequences for the rest of your life.
Your presentation was very inspirational. My heart and jaw dropped when you had said it was you. I thought you were going to tell the man who was hurt to come out from behind the curtains. I think you have come a long way since what happened in Florida. Even though what your orignal dream was, wasn’t what happened after all, what you are accomplishing now is like a dream or a miracle. It’s amazing how you went from not remembering anything to being a personal injury attorney.
Suffern HS Teacher: I teach Spanish and Italian at Suffern High School. I wanted to tell you that your presentation made quite an impression on me and my students, and it’s been the talk of the school community since yesterday morning. God bless you and your work.
Bogota HS Sophmore letter to teacher: The presentation this morning was really interesting. It made me realize that if you believe in yourself, anything is possible. It’s a miracle how Steven recovered from the accident when he was really close to death, but he didn’t give up. After the coma, he learned how to read, walk and remembered things again. If he wouldn’t have believed in himself and gave up, he probably would be in a wheelchair right now. But he didn’t give up and now he’s a successful attorney. He’s like a miracle man. G-d gave him the chance to live and ht took advantage of that and kept his head up and succeded in life by becoming an attorney and is telling students not to drive drunk and inspiring them to believe in themselves.
Suffern HS Senior: I attend Suffern High School-where you spoke about drinking and driving. I just wanted to let you know that i found this story extremely interesting. I was shocked when i found out that the student was you! I do have a couple of questions that i would like to ask, if you wouldn’t mind taking the time out whenever you get a chance. Thanks
Do you remember anything about the night of the accident, or is it all a blur?
Since you said you memory was gone when you came out of the coma, how did you gain it all back and “re-introduce” yourself to your friends and family?
What did your friends do, and how did the react to what happened after you woke up from the coma?
Personally, i don’t drink and i don’t plan on ever drinking and thats the absolute truth. In my opinion, i think it’s pointless and stupid and it’s not going to get you anywhere in life. I was very interested in the speech that you gave and i think its an everlasting miracle that your still alive and doing so well today. If it were me, i wouldn’t be able to talk about it so much in front of so many people-but i guess your used to it by now. It’s such a miracle that you’re here today and thanks for the assembly-you did great! Your a true hero in my eyes !
I think that it’s such a brave thing that you are able to come up in front of thousands of people to explain what happened to you. When you announced that it was you, the reaction of the auditorium was amazed and just shocked. It was also amazingly great that you actually went back to the scene. Did it bring back any recollection of the night? As well, i wouldn’t have been able to face the person that was drunk and i would want him to live with guilt for the rest of his life as well. i wouldn’t be able to go up and introduce myself, and i know you said you didn’t either. Was there any specific reason why you didn’t? Thanks for taking the time to read this
Suffern HS Senior: You came to my school, Suffern High today and made your speech about drunk driving. I just wanted to say thank you because the speech was very moving and incredible. Although i dont drink, that story makes me not want to drink at all. I have just one question, and that is if you wanted to become a lawyer even before your accident, or if the accident made you want to become a lawyer? I also wanted to let you know that I really want to become a physical therapist when i grow up, and after hearing your story, it makes me want to be one that much more. So once again I just wanted to say thank you, and i hope your message gets across to other people.
Pearl River HS Teacher: I am a faculty member at PRHS and I was incredibly astounded by your presentation. I think you really hit home with many of my students and certainly made them think twice about drinking and driving.
Torah Academy Student: I am one of the students at TABC, the private high school where you recently gave your presentation. I would just like to say how much I truly respect and appreciate the work that you put in to prevent drunk driving. Even though I rarely drink, and considering that I am getting my license in a few months, I never really gave any thought about drunk driving. Now however, thanks to you, I am fully aware of its consequences. Besides the affect that you had on me, I will try my best to spread the knowledge to my friends and family, whenever possible. Overall, I would just like to thank you for all the time and effort that you commit to this life saving campaign. I wish you success and luck in all of your future endeavors.
MADD Executive Director: I wanted to personally reach out to again tell you how much we appreciate your dedication and commitment to MADD NJ. The difference you make and the addition you are to our MADD Family is immeasurable!
Wayne Hills HS Parent: First I just wanted to thank you for the delivery of your seminar. I found it incredibly interesting and moving.
After you were finished with your story you had said that when you go to medical conventions, you provide much more of the medical details of your case. As someone who wants to go into a career in medicine, specifically reconstructive surgery, I wish you would have been able to provide that of the same detail. Specifically I was curious to know more about how your brain was damaged and what the tests showed. I know you had said that when they did imaging of your brain it showed significant damage and that the doctors had it expected it to multiply the longer you remained in the comma. I am amazed that you were able to regain complete cognitive function. What specific areas of your brain were believed to be damaged, what percentage of brain function did you lose following the accident, were there any other systemic injuries asid! e from the complete reconstruction of your legs?
Again I thank you for sharing your story with my senior class, throughout the day I constantly head people discussing the severity of your case and how incredible they felt it was. Thank you again for your time and openness.
Sussex County College Student: Hello Steve, You came to my college today (sussex county community). I just wanted to tell you that I was in shock when you revealed that it was YOU who was the “college boy”. Your story really touched me. I’m glad that you speak to college students like me. Heres the picture we took together today. God bless you and your family always.
Ridgefield Park HS Senior: i go to ridgefield park high school i jus wanted to say thank you for coming to our school yesterday your speech was very inspirational and it was very emotional! you did a great job, thank you!
Wayne HS Senior: Today you were at my school talking about drunk drivers. I was so amazed when you told us that the boy who got into tht terrible accident was you. I mean i honestly thought the person would be dead but it was really amazing to see a person who went through so much trauma alive today and having a real great job and everything.How long did it take you to learn how to read? How and when did you start remembering things ad your family? When you became better were you able to recall everything from that night you gt into the accident? I was just wondering the answers to those questions. It realy is an amazingg story and I’m glad your okay. Thanks a lot.
Fairleigh Dickinson University Director: Hi Steve, I just wanted to send you a note about your seminar yesterday at FDU. I have seen you speak a number of times in the past and each time I see you talk it seems like the first time. Even though I know what the ending is, I still seem surprised. Your talk is powerful, emotional and motivating. You should be commended for this exceptional service you provide.
I had a number of people from the University attend yesterday and they all were impressed by your story and glad that they were able to attend.
Bergen HS Principal: Your message never gets old! Today the upper classmen were stunned as you revealed to them who the victim fo the drunk driving accident was. Their collective gasps and spontaneous applause said a lot.
Your presentation, however, was not done at that point. You brought the entire situation together by affirming that should people make a decision to drink that the complementary part of that decision would be a decision to not drive. As far as I am concerned, you are THE spokesperson in that regard. You acknowledged that when adults tell students not to drink, etc, etc., that some young people do it any way. However, when approached with your personal experiences, no one can say that they weren’t touched by your message. Indeed, your message has been indelibly imprinted upon each of us present.
I thank you for making time in your busy schedule to come to speak with us and for what you have come to mean to the students of this High School. I look forward to the next cycle when you can meet the next group of our student body. Respectfully,
Bergen HS Sophmore letter to teacher: I really appreciate the assembly because I personally know many people who thingk drinking is cool, although none of them are old enough to drive. I didn’t think the person would recover. I thought he’d stay alive but he’d have many disabilities for the rest of his life. At the end when Steven Benvenisti told us that the victim was happy now and stepped off the stage, I thought that the perswon would come out from the curtains, but instead he said, “that’s me.” I was inspired and motivated and I’m glad that he uses it to encourage people to not drink and drive. I am also surprised that he doesn’t hold a grudge at the drunk driver. I wouldn’t have been able to be ok about it if someone almost killed me by being stupid. I would never forgive tham and I was never into drinking and if i ever will be, I hope I wouldn’t drive. I hoope this affected many of those who are alcoholics.
Bergen HS Student letter to teacher: Steven shocked me even though he was in the hospital fighting for his life back, he was able to get out of that miserable condition. Steven also taught me that you can do anything you want no matter what happens. He got crashed, almost forgot who he was, and now he is an attorney who helps peole trying to change their mind about drinking and getting behind the wheel.
Bergen HS Senior to teacher: The overall message from the assembly was shocking and amazing. That had to be one of the best assemblies I have ever been to.
Bogota HS Sophmore letter to teacher: This assembly made me realize that it really is serious. Whether you’re drinking and driving or not, you can still get hurt. It’s horrible how someone as smart and athletic just one day gets hurt by a drunk driver. No one really expects this to hapen to htem but it could. It really made me wake up and see that anything could happen and what could end up happening. Also, how dangerous this is. I think this assembly really helped people to see and be careful. It really shocked me that by just calling a peer or guardian to come pick you up can save your life or someone elses. Just by making that one simple call, you can prevent this from happening and prevent the risk of putting people in danger.
Family friend: That is great! Thank you for sending to me. I can not believe it has been 23 years. You will have to tell Steven that his accident made an impact on my life, as well. Steven’s life changing event always stuck with me and I always made sure there was a designated driver. I have shared Steven’s story with many friends when I had to explain why I wouldn’t get in the car with them, and believe it or not, most people seemed to understand. I believe the reason that I have always felt so strongly against drunk driving is seeing what Steven and your family had to go through. That made a big impression on me as a 14 year old kid. Who knows, if I didn’t share in that experience with you, maybe I would have thought differently and not been so careful all these years. Tell him I send my love and I went through his website and really enjoyed seeing what he is doing with his life and how he is making an impact on the lives of others.
Bergen HS Senior: This assembly was I’d have to say the best assembly I’ve seen so far. I thought it was amazing how all those pictures were the same guy standing on stage! It was truly a miracle that he healed so nicely because he has a very important message to deliver to many studentsw and parents against drunk driving. This assembly overall taught about how someone else’s drinking could cause another person’s deth and how devasting it will be for the victim’s parents. This can truly open the eyes of many people, not only becuse of the topic itself, but because he was telling his own story.
Bergen HS Junior: I think that the assembly yesterday was amazing. I think that it is amazing how he lived after the tragedy. It really opened my eyes to not drink and drive.