By Emily Branson / Staff writer
Beginning in 1982, international and world-renowned speakers have been coming to Hutchinson Community College to provide a learning experience for all who attend, especially students.
With more than 150 speakers in the series so far, this year is the 37th year for the Dillon Lecture Series.
On Oct. 1, HutchCC will welcome John O’Leary to the Sports Arena to speak about his story. At the age of 9, O’Leary caught on fire and suffered third-degree burns on 100% of his body. With only a 1% chance to live, he overcame incredible odds and now encourages others to live boldly.
“I think the audience will be very impressed with his attitude,” said Robin Woodworth, Coordinator for the Dillon Lecture series. “I hope they see his positive attitude and his determination to overcome life’s challenges.”
A DLS committee member, Kenneth Peirce, read O’Leary’s book, “On Fire,” and felt that he would be a good inspiration to the audience.
“He really liked what he had to say, and the message that he had,” Woodworth said. “O’Leary had a horrible accident, and Pierce was really impressed with how he persevered and overcame it.”
This lecture had been named the Barbara Pierce Memorial Lecture, in honor of Peirce’s late wife. The family chooses one lecture each year to be a memorial for Barbara Pierce.
With each lecture, the committee selects a speaker who can provide a unique experience for the community and all of the students.
“They are getting to see someone that they may not ever get the opportunity to see,” Woodworth said. “They aren’t always names that you would recognize, but they always have a good message.”
The lecture series is not just for students in the Reno County area, as more than half of the audience will come from across the state to be there.
All HutchCC students get in free if they show their student ID. The lecture begins at 10:30 a.m. and doors open at 9:45 a.m.
“Students should definitely take advantage of it,” Woodworth said.
“Good leadership is about rising up and coming on to the stage and saying that people rise up,” O’Leary said. “But great leadership and great mentoring and great love is always, not sometimes, always, about coming down. It’s about meeting people where they are. In their struggles, in their challenges, in t