Before my accident, I was a tennis player ranked number 4 in the Nation. I started playing tennis when I was 3 years old. As I grew older, I played tennis along with basketball and soccer. I really liked basketball and for a while I thought I was going to pursue it, but decided that I wasn't big enough, and so I chose tennis as something I felt I could be active and successful in through college and beyond.
By the time I was 12, I had won my second Southern regional title in tennis, plus the Sportsmanship Award in Tenneesee and in the 11-state Southern section. In all I ended up winning 5 Southern titles, and soon was being exempted from playing in the state and regionals, going right on to the nationals.
My life was a grueling schedule of school, practice, and work-outs that began two hours before school started and went for two hours afterward. But I loved it, and worked hard at it, even taking extra classes so I could graduate early, looking forward to college and a career in professional tennis.
Then, unexpectedly, in June of 1994, my father died of a heart attack. He had been an athelete, too, like me. Losing him so suddenly was not something I was prepared to deal with.
It was only about 5 months later, on 13 November 1994, a cold night, that I was out at a bar, and I drank, and I decided I could drive home. It turned out to be the biggest mistake of my life. I made it to the road I lived on. And then I ran off the road and hit a tree. I was as close to death as a person can be.
I was airlifted to a local hospital and there was in a coma for three and a half months. The doctors at first didn't believe I would live, then believed I would be entirely paralyzed. Well, I had different ideas.
So here I am, hoping I can help keep others from making the mistakes I made. See the below video for a quick glimpse into the presentation I give:
It would be very difficult for any person who hasn't experienced what I've experienced since that tragic mistake to understand the adversity, the hardship, the enormous struggle, that I, and my family, have had to go through. By speaking in public, I hope to bring home to people the reality of what drinking and driving can do to a person's life.
I'm someone about whom the cliche "he had it all" is true. I did have it all, and I'm fortunate to have a loving family who has stood by me and helped me through this adversity.
Now my wish is that I can reach out to people, young and old, and keep many others from ever having to experience the consequences of drinking and driving.
It has been estimated that over three million teenagers are out and out alcoholics. Several million more have a serious drinking problem that they cannot manage on their own. That is why Blake began speaking to students about making good decisions.
Facts from Focus Adolescent Services:
- The three leading causes of death for 15-24 year olds are automobile crashes, homicides, and suicides. Alcohol is a leading factor in all three.
- An early age of drinking onset is also associated with alcohol-related violence not only among persons under age 21 but among adults as well.
- Every fifteen minutes someone dies from an alcohol-related automobile accident. Each weekend, each hour, a teenager dies in a car crash. Fully fifty percent of those crashes will involve alcohol.
Blake McMeans's life changed forever in an alcohol related automobile accident. He is primarily confined to a wheel chair. His dreams of becoming a professional athlete are gone forever. In fact, he will never play tennis again.
Today, his passion has become speaking to young people and compelling them not to make the choices he made. He speaks in high schools and middle schools across the country, using his own life story to convince students not to drink and drive or ride with someone who has been drinking.
For those students seeking help for themselves or for their friends, Blake's foundation has started a campaign with Hospital Corporation of America. Despite every kid's personal view of themselves being invincible, to live a successful life, everybody needs to make good decisions. IMvincible is designed to remind those of the consequences of making bad decisions while helping guide students how to make good ones.