Every Fifteen Minutes

I had the privilege of speaking to the upper school student body of Francis Parker today, as part of the Every Fifteen Minutes program.  It was an emotional day for Pauka, Evan and I;  another small step down the path in healing.  It was an amazing two day event, one which I truly believe is making a difference in our world.  The transcript below is what I read, and I hope it makes in difference in your life….


My name is Ken Truesdale and I stand here today, wearing the shoes of my first born son. Shoes he no longer can wear. Our family is here today, because we are, a Parker family. Patrick is in middle school and Evan is a freshman. But our family does not end there. Our daughter Kelli will soon graduate from the nursing program at PLNU and the first of our children is Brady. On Evans birthday two years ago, Brady died in an alcohol related car accident at the age of 22.

I have one those word-a-day type calendars on my desk, but this one has movie quotes. Today’s page, ironically enough, is from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: “It is not our abilities that show what we truly are, it is our choices.” March 31 calendr with quote

Brady is not the victim of some unknown persons reckless behavior, but rather, he is the victim of his own choices and the choices of his friends.

It was to be another weekend of fun, four wheeling in the desert. He and two friends hopped in his truck and headed out looking for the excitement that comes with driving fast and turning quickly in the sand. Brady drove for a while and then offered to let his friend take a turn behind the wheel. He was new to this experience and Brady wanted him to share in the rush driving fast and wild could bring. So, with Brady as a passenger and another friend in back, they took off…. For fun.

I’m sure they did have fun; the final pictures from Brady’s phone show it clearly. It was all fun, until one wrong turn sent the truck flipping. A flip with so much force, that the two ton mass of steel, flipped three times. Landing……Roof, side, roof, side, roof, hitting the desert floor. And during one of those flips Brady was sent flying through the sunroof. He landed in the sand and was crushed by his very own truck. His head and neck didn’t have a chance and he died immediately.

His friends had minor injuries, and rushed to Brady, trying desperately to fix his bloodied, mangled, and lifeless body, but it was already over…..

And actually, it was over long before that.

You see Brady and his friends had been drinking. THAT is the moment when Brady chose to risk it all… Everything after that choice, was decided first, by their decision to pop a few beers into a cooler. I’m sure they thought this wasn’t like going to a party, drinking beers, and driving on the public streets. No way, they were in the middle of nowhere, away from other cars, away from buildings, and barricades…just like they did so many times before. What could possibly go wrong.

Every person in this room has heard, don’t drink and drive. But in hearing that we all paint a picture of what that looks like. We frame it, in order to insulate ourselves, and trick ourselves into believing, it won’t happen to me….not to my family. We pretend that the affluence and privilege we enjoy as members of the Parker community, will somehow shield us from reality. We say, just designate a driver, don’t drive. Uber it.

But bad decisions follow alcohol. Not only was the driver incapable of handling the truck, Brady was not wearing a seatbelt. We don’t know what would have happened if he had, but we are left with what happened because he didn’t.

But I’m not actually here to tell you, once again, don’t drink and drive, and to always wear your seatbelt. Because YOU, Individually and collectively, must choose that on your own. I can’t do it for you.

What I AM here to do, is to ask you for your help. Help me find answers to riddles I have yet to solve. Ponder these questions… go back to class and talk about these questions.

Why did Brady not wear his seatbelt? Come up with a hundred reasons why he didn’t wear his seatbelt and then decide if those reasons are worth dying for.

Why did the driver drive beyond his ability? What is it, about driving out of control that feels so damn good?…. I’ll bet there’s a hundred possibilities, but then decide if any are worth your friends life.

Why did Brady and his friends choose to drink before they went chompin’ through the desert? There are probably another hundred answers, but then ask yourself, are they worth killing one, two, three or more people?

Why is our society accepting of the fact that so many people die in alcohol related car crashes every year? Why do we calmly watch the nightly news about the daily alcohol related accidents and do absolutely nothing? And then ask yourself, what if it were YOUR Mom, YOUR Dad, YOUR Brother, YOUR Sister…YOUR Child.

Who will take a stand? Who are the leaders within our Parker family? Who are the leaders who will enjoy going to sleep at night knowing they kept somebody alive? How great will those leaders feel for the rest of their lives, knowing they saved a precious human life?

When will this all change? When will it be time? In a day? a month? a year? Or will it be after you and another thousand kids needlessly die?

What do you want, in return for being safe?… Make a long list of everything you think you want, and then ask yourself if LIFE is worth even more.

Talk. To. Your. Parents.

Ask them questions and DEMAND long answers. Ask them how they would feel if you died. Ask them if life’s worth living. Ask them if they can protect you 24/7. Ask them if you can be replaced and ask them, point blank, if they love you.
And finally, and most importantly…..Who will YOU be?

Will YOU be the person, that sits idly by while bad choices are made around you? Or will you be the person that takes action and keeps a drunken friend from driving.

Will YOU be the person that constantly and forever, makes smart choices, or will YOU be the very next person to die.

Ask yourself who YOU want to be.

Constantly ask yourself, again and again, every fifteen minutes.


If you would like to learn more about this program, check out EveryFifteenMinutes.org


  1. Wow, Kenny…powerful words and testimony. I am touched again by the eloquence of your thoughts and your spot-on message. Last week PLHS did the Every Fifteen Minutes program I believe for the first time. I found out only on Easter, as it came up over brunch that my cousin had played the role of the drunk driver in the staged
    crash. She and her parents told us what an emotional and gripping experience it had been, she an exceptional student who through this event was arrested, appeared in county jail and told by the judge even after her parents testified about her character that she had made bad choices and was a menace to society. Surely unforgettable moments of lasting impact. We listened more intently knowing our own daughter is taking part in the same program this Monday at her high school in Laguna Hills. She plays the part of one of the students killed in the crash. She doesn’t die on scene as two others do, but is transported by ambulance to the hospital where we, her parents, have to meet her. This scene will be agonizingly filmed for the program, as we learn she doesn’t make it. We’ve had to write an obituary, make a tombstone for her and write a letter of the things we wish we would have said. All gut-wrenching, stomach turning things no parent of a graduating senior wants to do, and it has been tough simply dreading this. But I believe in the impact in the program, and know that we will
    somehow find the strength because I will draw on yours. I was at Brady’s funeral and though I hadn’t seen you or Conni much for dozens of years since PLHS, I felt heartbroken for your loss of a child. This program has a greater purpose to help influence teens to see and feel in ways that must make an impact. Thank you for your role and I know Brady in turn is very proud of his dad.

    1. Author

      Hey Lisa. You’ve been so kind to us. I still don’t think of myself as a writer, but I will not soon forgot that you told me otherwise at Brady’s funeral. Thanks for pushing me. Embrace your opportunity to participate; personalize it, and live it as if it were real. The people that are actively involved have an amazing impact on those watching.

  2. Wow. Tears with my coffee this morning as I read your post. Ken, thanks for your share. I wish I could have actually been there in person at Parker when you delivered your sermon. I have no doubt you touched many lives with your thought provoking words of wisdom. Be well, my friend.

    1. Author

      Thanks Carl…it was an emotional two days for all involved, and that’s a good thing. Thanks for shedding a tear for my boy, and for the hope it doesn’t happen to yours.

  3. Hi again Ken – We completed the Every 15 Minutes program at our school this week. It was gut-wrenching. But the impact it has already had on students, teacher and families is palpable. Here is the video they produced. The crash and hospital scenes happened on Monday and this incredible video was done for the assembly on Tuesday morning. My daughter is the one taken to the hospital; my husband and I are in that scene. Unfortunately, the assembly speaker did not show up; had I known that would happen I would have printed your remarks and had someone just read them. I did forward your blog post to our principal and event organizers; they were moved.

  4. Dear Ken, I admire your eloquence and your courage. You are coping with the deepest trauma a parent an experience, and, with your family, sharing your insight to help prevent similar tragedies.
    Betsy Stevens

    1. Author

      Hi Betsy. So nice to just see your name! I’m learning that sharing, in tragedy, and life in general, is critical to survival. I do hope my words help. I hope you and the entire Stevens clan are well!!!

Leave a Comment