Student to Start Yearlong Vow of Silence

ByABC News
August 31, 2000, 2:47 PM

Aug. 31 -- Is silence really golden?

Brett Banfe, an 18-year-old college freshman, certainly hopes so.

The Haddonfield, N.J., teen committed himself today to a yearlong vow of silence to raise money for charity.

Banfe decided on his year of silence several months ago on a whim, when he was talking to a group of high school friends.

We were talking about what it would be like to stop speaking for a day. And I said I could do it for a year. And they said theres no way you can do it for a year, he told Good Morning America earlier this month. So he decided he would accept the challenge.

Since word got out, the Banfe family has been flooded with media attention.

We were not prepared for this, Bretts mother, Sharon Banfe, said today, as she waited for a French television crew to arrive at her house, and tried to prepare for a planned news conference this afternoon.

It is mind-boggling. Im waiting to hear from President Clinton, because weve heard from just about everybody else, she joked.

Banfe told GMA he hoped he would become more observant and a better listener over the next year.

One area that I think is going to be transformed is how I listen to people, because Im not going to be trying to formulate what Im going to say next, he said.

Banfe attracted sponsorship from the Web site, which agreed to pay him $20 a day for each day he doesnt speak, and a $5,000 bonus if he finishes the entire year. Banfes mother says hell donate the money to Head Start.

The Science of Silence

Staying quiet for a year could be difficult for Banfe, who on Sunday leaves for his first year of college at William Patterson University in New Jersey.

To make it, hes assembled an array of high-tech gadgets to help him survive hes set himself up with a new computer with a Web cam linked to his Internet site, and an e-mail pager to communicate with professors and friends.