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Inspirational Speaker Tells Story of the Power of Good, Bad Decisions

(Bloomfield, Conn.) As a two-time member of the National Junior College Athletic Association women’s volleyball All-America team, Sarah Panzau Evans knew what it was like to be on top of her game – and on top of the world. But not long after, she nearly lost it all. Somewhere between life as a competitively driven high school athlete and the early years of college, she started to go down a destructive path. She found herself hanging out with the wrong crowd and getting more out of drugs and dangerous levels of alcohol than she did by hitting the books and spiking a ball.

In the early morning hours of Aug. 23, 2003, Panzau Evans’ car – and her life – spun out of control. With a blood-alcohol level nearly four times the legal limit, the 21-year-old decided to drive drunk, missed a highway exit, and rolled her car four times. She wasn’t wearing a seat belt and was ejected through the rear window of her car. Her left arm was torn from her body and she was thrown onto the roadway. The next thing Panzau Evans remembers was waking up in the hospital and being told that she had lost her arm. She remained hospitalized for several months and endured more than 30 surgeries.

Panzau Evans recognizes it was her poor choices that led up to that tragic night. Now she hopes others will learn from her mistakes. She started speaking to students because, until the crash, she was in their shoes. She felt she was invincible and the world was ahead of her.

On Wednesday, March 28, at 1:30 p.m., Panzau Evans will share her inspirational story, called Living Proof, with students at CREC Metropolitan Learning Center, 1551 Blue Hills Ave., Bloomfield. Members of the media are also welcome to attend and to interview her after her presentation.

Through Living Proof, Panzau Evans encourages students to look out for each other and reminds them to seek help, if needed. She also touches on the difficulties she has encountered as a result of her disabling injury, including a lack of social acceptance. She relates that before the crash, she was the pretty, popular girl with whom everyone wanted to be friends. Now that she is technically considered disabled, people treat her differently. Panzau Evans encourages students not to let physical disabilities bias their thinking and to show tolerance and acceptance of others.

“Not only did my poor decisions to hang with the wrong crowd, get involved with drugs, and drive drunk forever change my life, they also changed the lives of everyone around me,” Panzau Evans said. “Every time I speak to students, I want them to understand the importance of making good decisions and how choices have consequences – sometimes for a lifetime.”

Living Proof is sponsored by Anheuser-Busch wholesaler Hartford Distributors, Inc. as part of the company’s commitment to help prevent underage drinking and drunk driving. Panzau Evans is a member of the Anheuser-Busch Community Speakers program. “Sarah provides a powerful message that truly resonates with students,” said Linda Davidson, consumer awareness and education coordinator at Hartford Distributors, Inc. “Not only does she tell them about the importance of making good decisions, not to drink when underage, and never drive drunk, she also teaches about the value of family and the important role these relationships play in the lives of young adults.”

For more information about the presentation or to schedule an interview, contact Alison Jamin, CREC Metropolitan Learning Center, at 860-404-4740 or ajamin@crec.org, or Linda Davidson, Consumer Awareness & Education, Hartford Distributors, Inc., at 860-647-5718 or Linda.d@hdibeer.com.

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