Sarah Panzau’s bad decision destroyed a nearly a decade of hard work to become a standout volleyball player. Now, Panzau travels the nation with a message she hopes will warn other students to drink responsibly if they hope to avoid life-changing consequences.
Panzau will bring her message, “Living Proof,” to California State University, Fresno at 7 p.m. Jan. 30. Her presentation in the Satellite Student Union is free and open to the public. Parking restrictions will be relaxed in lots A and J nearby.
Panzau didn’t set out to be a motivational speaker. At 12, she found volleyball and made the commitment necessary to become a two-time National Junior College Athletic Association All-American at Southwestern Illinois College.
As a 21-year-old athlete with a bright future, Panzau says she made a series of bad judgments. She began using drugs and alcohol, which culminated Aug. 23, 2003, in her attempt to drive home after several hours of partying, which included drinking.
When she lost control of her car, she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. The car overturned four times, propelling Panzau through the rear window and amputating her left arm. The accident report said Panzau’s blood-alcohol level was nearly four times the legal limit.
Hospitalized for several months, she underwent 30 surgeries, before more months of recovery and rehabilitation. Included was volleyball, which she played from a wheelchair well enough to tour with the USA Women’s Sitting Volleyball Team before injuries resulting from the crash forced her retirement.
Panzau turned her own misfortune into a cautionary lesson for others, speaking for Anheuser-Busch’s (NYSE: BUD) national “Responsibility Matters” campaign.
Her Fresno State appearance is sponsored by local Anheuser-Busch wholesaler, Donaghy Sales, as part of the company’s commitment to fight underage drinking and drunk driving. Donaghy Sales has partnered with the university’s Alcohol Safety Council, USU Productions and Fresno State Athletics to arrange Panzau’s presentation.
“We wanted our students to hear from someone who knows that the poor choices you make today can tear you away from your dreams tomorrow,” said Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Paul Oliaro, chair of Fresno State’s Alcohol Safety Council.
The event is one of several university initiatives to promote responsible alcohol use by Fresno State students and the entire campus community.
The Alcohol Safety Council is composed of community leaders, prevention specialists, law enforcement officials and Fresno State faculty, staff and students The council serves Fresno State and its students by sponsoring alcohol-free events, recommending campus policy changes and forming partnerships with law enforcement agencies.
Alcohol Safety Council — http://www.csufresno.edu/alcohol/.
“Responsibility Matters” — http://www.beerresponsible.com/home.html.