|Members from the Lassen Community College Special Athletes and Activities Club pose with speaker and author E. Tony Williams after he spoke about respecting everyone during the Disability Awareness Month events on campus Tuesday, March 24.|
Saturday, April 4, 2015 — Lassen Community College students, staff and community members recognized Disability Awareness Month through a variety of events.
Tuesday, March 24, author and motivational speaker E. Tony Williams addressed the event’s attendees, sharing details about the March 1973 gang sniper shooting that hit him in the back and left him paralyzed, and his painful and enlightening recovery.
Williams, author of “Peace in My Dreams,” reflected on his life before the paralyzing shot that struck him, noting how he aspired to be a basketball player; however, after having to shift his dreams, he found a passion for writing poetry, singing and playing wheelchair basketball.
“The worst thing you can do is follow someone else’s diagram for your life,” said Williams as he described how becoming paralyzed helped him get out of the gang scene. “I’ve done a lot of things in the wheelchair I would have never done on my feet.”
Williams, who has been friends with Lassen Community College superintendent/ president Dr. Marlon Hall since they were fourth-graders in Chicago, Illinois, has since spent his time playing on a wheelchair basketball team, writing books of poetry and his autobiography and speaking to students.
One of the themes present in his Lassen Community College presentation was to respect everyone, no matter what kind of disability they may have.
Additionally, he spoke about the struggles he went through following his recuperation, and the time he contemplated and attempted suicide, saying, “Don’t take it for granted. If not for yourself, think about your family … it’s always darkest before the dawn … the sun will come up in the morning.”
Attendees were also able to ask Williams questions about his life and his writings.
Moreover, members of the college’s Special Athletes and Activities Club hosted activities where participants could experience what having some common disabilities is like.
According to advisor Carrie Nyman and members of the club, there were several different booths focused on physical and learning disabilities.
Participants had their arm tied off so they experienced what it was like without the limb and used wheelchairs. They also participated by learning what it felt like to have visual and hearing disabilities. Moreover, those visiting the booths experienced what it was like for those who have intellectual disabilities.
Those who attended each booth and made a pledge to end the r-word, retard, were provided with a wristband and a T-shirt proclaiming their support to end the phrase.