Fletcher Cleaves was an aspiring football player with a college scholarship and a bright future – until one day it all changed.
He recalls an oncoming car drifting into his lane, the glow of a cell phone on the driver’s face and then a crash. The tragic accident left him paralyzed from the chest down. But it didn’t break his spirit – six years later, Cleaves continues to fight.
His powerful story is told in a video from AT&T’s It Can Wait campaign, which was produced with ESPN’s in-house CreativeWorks team, where he highlights the initiative’s life-saving message: “No post, glance, email, search or text is worth a life.”
Cleaves also joined the College GameDay Built by the Home Depot crew this past Saturday for the debut of the video on ESPN.
Front Row spoke with Cleaves about being a part of the campaign and sharing his story with millions:
What has it been like to be a part of this campaign?
It’s been a tremendous amount of fun – I’ve never done anything like this. I can’t thank AT&T and ESPN enough for the collaboration and for sharing my story and ringing the alarm.
People asked me “Are you nervous about being on College GameDay?” I said, “No, I have confidence in myself”’ And I had confidence that if they [ESPN and AT&T] told my story, it’d be a great one.
What’s the response been so far?
I never thought we’d get such a big response. I’ve received so many messages and requests from people saying our video changed their lives and their take on texting and driving. A grandfather and grandson walked up to me and said, “We saw you on TV and it changed our outlook on life. We want to thank you.” A lot of people have reached out asking, “Can you speak to my team, my school and tell your story?” I’m happy that I’m able to encourage people to do the right thing.
How are you able to keep such a positive spirit?
While I was in the hospital I thought, “There’s always somebody out there that has it worse.” I have to be strong for the people that have been my side – I can’t give up. Also I’m young, only 24. Life can change in the blink of an eye, so there’s no reason to not have fun. Sports taught me a lot about having confidence in yourself and on what you can do and to never give up no matter what.