(From left to right) - Staff Sargent Kyle Grisham,Former tennis phenom Blake McMeans, Lieutenant Rebekah Mitchell and Coalition Coordinator for the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions Across Tennessee, Cynthia George pose for a photo after a program at Columbia State Community College's Lewisburg Campus on Thursday, November 19. McMeans spoke to the audience about how his decision to drink and drive cost him his athletic career and nearly cost him his life.
“As they say a picture is worth a thousand words, and if you saw me walk to this podium, you saw a picture of a person who decided to drink and drive,” began former tennis phenom, Blake McMeans while speaking to an audience at Columbia State Community College’s Marshall County Campus on Thursday, November 19.
The Knoxville native, once a number four nationally ranked tennis player was in a car accident after drinking with fraternity brothers when he was 17. The decision to drink and drive cost him his athletic career along with many of the freedoms that most take for granted and nearly his life.
“It took me seven years to learn how to talk, walk and chew,” McMeans told audience members while discussing some of the challenges he and his family have had to overcome during the past years.
McMeans, now 32, has dedicated himself to educating youths about the devastating consequences of drinking and driving. “When you get the kind of emails that I get, you don’t want to do anything else because you make such a difference in other peoples life,” said McMeans. “When you help others it heals you.”
McMeans currently manages a 501©3 organization called “The Promise Tour” where he challenges audiences not to drink and drive or ride with someone who is. “I used to have students make a promise to me, but today I’m asking you to make a promise to yourself— I want you to promise yourself that you will value being here and make responsible decisions. I want you to promise that you’ll think about the effects of alcohol and choose not to use it,” said McMeans told audience members. “I hope you learn about making the right choices from my mistakes.” His goal is to get 100,000 youths to pledge not to drink and drive or ride with those who do.
Currently, McMeans is the assistant tennis coach at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Tennessee.
Staff Sergeant, Kyle Grisham, Lieutenant, Rebekah Mitchell, and Coalition Coordinator for the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions Across Tennessee, Cynthia George also spoke to students about the effects drugs and alcohol. “It kind of made me look at things differently,” said Columbia State student Andrew Pate. “It was interesting to see how just one mistake could make such a big difference in somebody’s life.”
For more on Blake McMeans and his educational inspirational speaking engagements, visit www.blakemcmeans.com, “Friends of Blake McMeans” on Facebook, or “blakemcmeans” on Twitter.