Rocky Hulne: WyattStrong is a reminder to stay safe on the roads

Published 5:18 pm Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Saturday was a big day for the Austin boys hockey program. Riverside Arena was packed with current players, current coaches and former players and coaches alike.

From grown men in their 40s to youth hockey players who are on their way up, the rink was filled with energy for the sport and community support for a player, who is dealing with an unthinkable tragedy.

The WyattStrong event proved to be bittersweet as along with the celebration in Riverside, Austin boys hockey player Wyatt Hamlin was at Mayo Clinic, preparing to attempt to stand again for the first time in nearly eight weeks.

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Hamlin’s life, and the lives of his loved ones, was changed forever when he was hit by a drunk driver in late July. The incident is all too familiar and it is another reminder of how fragile life is.

Anyone who’s ever had a loved one facing a major health crisis can relate to the pain, uncertainty and anxiety that Hamlin’s loved ones have gone through. There is the immediate question of survival, followed by the creeping fear in the aftermath of how the event will affect the victim for the rest of their life.

The pain must be magnified for Hamlin’s loved ones as it all could’ve been easily avoided.

We live in a golden age of communication where a sober driver or taxi cab are literally a couple of clicks away from a cell phone and there is absolutely no good excuse to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The best way to avoid this is to make a plan before you take your first drink. Alcohol tends to cloud judgment and hamper decision making, which means the battle to not drink and drive is often lost well before the drinker gets behind the wheel. If you’re out for a night on the town and you’re not planning ahead, you could end up making the mistake that shatters or somebody else’s life.

It’s an incredible cost for such a careless decision and it happens far more than it should.

Keep that in mind the next time you have a drink, and also keep your mind on Wyatt Hamlin and the thousands of supporters that have rallied behind him in the community.