TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Ivy Tech Community College invited Paralympic Gold Medalist Evan Austin to be the keynote speaker for Disability Awareness Month.

Having been born and raised in Terre Haute, Austin explained that he was grateful to present his message to several local school children from Dixie Bee Elementary, Austin’s former elementary school. 

“To come back to where it all began fills me with so much gratitude and I’m just so thankful that I have a story with telling worth sharing and that people invited me here for it to be happening during Disability Awareness Month as well just add to the level of pride that I have,” Austin said.

After having placed first in the Summer Paralympics in Japan in 2019 for the 50-meter butterfly, Austin continued to find ways to challenge himself by now working as the Development Officer for the non-profit, The Ability Experience, and as a keynote speaker for the organization, ForCollegeForLife.

Austin hopes that in sharing his experiences, he will be able to help others in their future efforts.

“For me to have been given the opportunity to be team captain of team USA and now being on stage for the children of this community, maybe I encourage someone with a disability to believe that this path is possible,” Austin explained.  “I maybe had the opportunity to break down some walls and eliminate barriers for kids in this community to believe that they can go on and do some things that have an impact on a lot of people. I wasn’t the first to break through those walls. I don’t have enough words and time in the rest of my life to say thank you to all the people that helped and led me and let me learn,” Austin added.