Just once. That is all it takes. Aaron Cooksey
unfortunately learned this lesson the hard way during his college
career when the vehicle that he was driving one night was involved
in a serious accident claiming the life of his best friend and
dramatically changing his life forever.
The story actually began as Cooksey was about to begin his
collegiate career as a football player. A month before the first
game, he tore the ACL ligament in his knee and for the first time
in his life had idle time where he was not directly involved in
sports. It was at this time that Cooksey was introduced to alcohol
and started an unhealthy ritual of drinking and driving.
The night of this fatal accident, Cooksey had been drinking and
his decision to get behind the wheel proved to be one that would
change his life and others' forever.
After serving four years in prison and piecing his life back
together, Cooksey has emerged from his own path of self-destruction
with a message for young college students - drop your pride.
The message serves as the title for his alcohol awareness program
which advocates against drinking and driving.
The story is an engaging one because it, unlike many videos
shown to young people, is real and it is being told by the person
himself. During his story, Cooksey is adamant about one
thing. He does not want people to clap for his story,
self-admitting that he has done terrible things. The irony of
the situation is what he has decided to do as a consequence of his
actions is incredibly applaudable.
"Aaron is doing a very respectable thing," related senior Casey
McGill. "He is owning up to his actions and he isn't asking
for applause or attention, but rather he is speaking in an attempt
to prevent it from happening to others, and I find that extremely
responsible of him."
McGill's words carry some credence as this was a choice Cooksey
made as a way to move forward with his life. The situation
certainly could have spurred him on to continue more destructive
Junior Luke Carey agreed by stating, "While Mr. Cooksey's
actions certainly had serious repercussions for both himself and
many around him, I believe it is commendable that he has taken the
experience and learned from it, and by talking to us, is trying to
educate others as well."
Gone is Cooksey's ability to drive a vehicle again. Gone is
his dream of teaching in the public school system. Many doors
have been closed off as a result of his one mistake that
night. To his credit he continues to share a very difficult
story in hopes that others can avoid making the same one he
did. The attending Green Mountain students were very thankful
for that fact.
"I'm so glad that Aaron was able to come and speak to the
students," said senior Chelsea Paul. "I think that this subject is
one of great importance for us as college students and as young
adults, but unfortunately is one that is delivered to us in
ineffective ways. Aaron's account was moving and effective
because he was someone we could relate to; he was just like all of
us. The fact that he is willing to relive such a horrific
moment of his past in order to prevent others from having to
experience the same tragedy is incredibly brave."
In his dramatic closing Aaron tosses his keys and walks off the
stage quietly. It is an apt metaphor just like his program's title
"Drop Your Pride" meaning drop your keys after you have had a
As posted on Cooksey's website, 999 out of 1,000 times, nothing
bad may happen. The one time it does, it changes everything.