It can happen to you too

Speaker educates juniors and seniors about the dangers of drugs and alcohol


Auryeal Parker

Speaker Sarah Panzau’s message inspired emotion from students. Panzau spoke in the PAC on Oct. 12.

Story by Celeste Anderson, news editor

Sarah Panzau, a motivational speaker, visited the high school on Oct. 12 to talk to juniors and seniors about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and the consequences that come with bad decision-making.

Panzau was a three year starter for varsity volleyball at her high school in Belleville, Ill. and accepted a full ride to Southwestern Illinois College for volleyball, where she was the seventh alternate player, freshman of the year and a two time All-American ranked player.

On Aug. 3, 2003, Panzau was involved in a single-car accident along Highway 64 East in Illinois, when her car flipped four times and left her unconscious and not breathing in the middle of the road. When she was transferred to Saint Louis University Hospital, the paramedics and doctors discovered her blood alcohol level was almost four times the legal limit, and she was left with a zero percent chance of survival. The injuries she sustained were numerous; she lost her left arm and had to have 40 surgeries throughout the course of 13 years.

Panzau’s biggest message was that alcohol and drugs are extremely dangerous, and even if someone doesn’t think accidents of that magnitude could happen to him or her, it is always a strong possibility. She also said that parents will always be willing to pick up their children if they ever decide to drink, so students’ concerns for their safety should outweigh the fear of their parents.

Another central message in Panzau’s powerful presentation was that everyone is beautiful in their own way, and the students should walk out of the Performing Arts Center knowing that they have their own unique beauty and shouldn’t judge others based on appearances. She ended her speech with, “If you judge someone without getting to know them, you would never get to know a beautiful person like me.”