The Performing Arts Center was packed Thursday morning with students and faculty from the high school who listened to the compelling story of Cara Filler, a guest speaker who lost her twin sister right before her eyes. Filler travels to over 200 schools a year to share her message with students with hopes that at least one will listen.
“I want each of you to close your eyes,” said Filler. Jokingly she continued, “I know all of you are looking around to see if the person next to you is closing their eyes, but do me a favor and just close them and listen. I promise it won’t hurt.”
Filler then asked for each student to picture the most important person in their life, whether it was a brother, sister, parent or best friend. Then she asked to picture their life without that person. She asked for them to picture not having that person to come home to after school, or to sit next to during class.In a short video played on the PAC’s projection screen, students could hear a girl screaming that everything would be all right.
When Filler asked for students to open their eyes she explained, “The words you heard being screamed were mine, word for word. Those were the words I said the day my sister Marian died.”
Filler’s message hit home with several of the high school students; emotions ran high as she shared her story. Marian was Filler’s identical twin sister who died in an automobile accident the day after their 18th birthday. The two sisters were heading home from job interviews
at the mall when Marian chose to ride with her boyfriend instead.
During the assembly Filler said she never knew that would be the last time she would see her sister alive. Marian left in her boyfriend’s Nissan, which was travelling at 110 mph in a 30 mph speed zone when his car skidded across the median and was t-boned by a sedan. The point of impact was Marian’s door handle.
Filler explained that she was the first car to come on the scene, and that the paramedics arrived shortly after and had to strap her to a gurney to hold her down to deliver the news of her sister’s death. By this time in the assembly every student had their attention glued to Filler and her story. The crowd was hushed and tears could be seen on both the students’ and the faculty’s faces.
Filler’s life was changed forever that day because her sister made the wrong choice and didn’t speak up for herself. High speed is what killed her sister, which is what she told students, but the fact that she didn’t tell her boyfriend to slow down is the real reason why she is dead.
Filler speaks to high school students across North America and is popular because of her sense of humor. “She seems to be able to relate to the students,” said Excelsior Springs High School guidance counselor Heather Grove.
Without making light of the situation, Filler didn’t try to tell the students what to do. Instead she gave them options on how to get out of a situation if they were in trouble.
“This isn’t about telling you not to have a good time,” she continued. “I’m not telling you to stay home every night with the covers pulled up over your head and hide. I’m telling you to go out and have a good time.”
The wrap-up of the assembly was Filler giving students several suggestions on how they could get out of a car if they felt uncomfortable with the driver—in case the driver had been drinking or if they felt the driver was speeding or driving recklessly.
At the conclusion, Filler was given a standing ovation and dozens of students waited to speak one on one with her.