Blake McMeans was once one of the nation's top-ranked high school tennis players until one drinking and driving accident changed the course of his life forever. Now, Blake is back at center court in a whole new way. Through his nonprofit, the Blake McMeans Foundation and Promise Tour, Blake educates young adults about the dangers of drinking and driving in the hopes of preventing teens from making the same life-altering mistake he did. On Friday, September 14 he will be bringing that message to St. Andrew's-Sewanee School during an all-school gathering in McCrory Hall for the Performing Arts.
At the age of 17, Blake's world was suddenly rocked by the unexpected death of his father. Shook by grief, Blake turned to alcohol to numb the pain. On the night of Nov. 10, 1994, Blake went out drinking, then got into his car to drive home -- a choice that turned out to be the biggest mistake of his life. Just 1⁄2-mile away from home, Blake drove his car into an embankment, hitting trees along the way and flipping his car three times.
For nearly four months, Blake remained in a coma. At nearly every point during his recovery, Blake's chances of living – much less significant gains in physical and cognitive progress -- seemed unlikely.
Despite the odds, Blake survived the initial trauma, but remains to this day without use of the right side of his body.
With each new day, Blake continues to accept the challenge of working hard to improve physically, mentally and cognitively, and he continues to make small, steady gains in his motor development. The same fortitude that once helped make him a tennis star and the inner strength that helped him survive his accident is now being channeled toward another purpose.
Since the launch of the Blake McMeans Foundation in 2008, Blake has spread his message to tens of thousands of students across the region, encouraging them to make a promise not to drink and drive. Today, Blake McMeans is one of the champions of drinking and driving prevention in the state of Tennessee, and his passion and commitment to the cause fuels a statewide effort in providing awareness opportunities that stress the importance of making strong, healthy choices throughout life.