An inspirational speaker took the stage at Bowling Green High School and Warren Central High School on Oct. 19, 2006, to talk about the dangers of alcohol and driving.
The speaker came in the name of National Disability Awareness month. To commemorate the month Western Kentucky University's Student Disability Services is holding several events in the community. The special event featured motivational speaker Peter Hawkins from New York.
At age 17 he was a high school standout lacrosse and football player, but now 25 years later, he has traveled to Bowling Green to speak to students on the dangers of alcohol and driving, something that has impacted his life.
"In December of 1981, a friend of mine was turning 18. The drinking age in New York at the time was 18", Hawkins said.
To celebrate this birthday his friends parents held a party at a local bar. Hawkins went to the party and had too much to drink. He knew not to drink and drive so he got a designated driver.
"But I didn't speak to him. I didn't say, John, are you gonna take responsibility for me? Are you gonna drink? I didn't do that," Hawkins said.
Hawkins may have been smart enough not to drink and drive that night but the friend he rode with did drink and later drive.
Hawkins was thrown from the car during an accident and is now paralyzed. He's now reaching out to students to get his story and message across.
"I hope to make them think twice about some of the things they're doing. Do I think if I speak to 400 kids they'll all walk up and say, 'I'll never do that again?' No, but if I give one or two kids the opportunity to think twice about some of the things they're doing, then it's worth me being here," Hawkins said.
Matt Davis agreed. He and Hawkins have raced together for nearly seven years and he brought him to the area to tell his story. He believes what he has to say does inspire students.
"Some of those kids have come up to Peter after the presentation and have have said "We really appreciate him coming and that he's made difference and that's what the whole point of this is," Davis said.
Hawkins does not let his disability slow him down. He is now a professional wheelchair athlete and has spoken across the United States as well as internationally.