High school and middle school students from Glenwood were reminded of the importance of making smart choices during a special homecoming week presentation by the survivor of a fiery automobile crash.
Sarah Panzau, a former high school and junior college volleyball standout from the St. Louis area, spoke to Glenwood students last Tuesday about the consequences of her poor choices and the challenges she now faces after losing her arm in the accident that occurred in August 2003.
Panzau, 21 at the time, was found to have a blood-alcohol of more than four times the legal limit when she crashed her vehicle during the early morning hours of Aug. 21, 2003. Panzau was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected through the rear window as her vehicle rolled four times. Her left arm was severed from her body when she was thrown to the roadway. She would undergo more than 30 surgeries while being hospitalized for several months.
Panzau is hopeful the young people she speaks to will learn from her mistakes and understand that they are not invincible.
“Not only did my poor decision to hang with the wrong crowd, get in involved with drugs and drive drunk forever change my life, it also changed the lives of everyone around me,” Panzau 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.”
Panzau told students in Glenwood to look out for one another and not be afraid to ask for help, if needed. She also talked about the physical and emotional challenges she now faces because of her disabling injuries and she encouraged the students to be accepting of all people.
Panzau’s Living Proof presentation in Glenwood was sponsored by the Iowa State Patrol and a Council Bluffs beer distributor. Her Glenwood appearance was coordinated by Iowa State Trooper Scott Miller of Glenwood.
“I first saw her give a presentation in Kentucky and she made a strong impression on me,” Miller said.