By SHERIDAN CYR
Joseph DePaolo Middle School students were in for a treat on Halloween, Oct. 31. Former professional wrestler and boxer, and WCW and WWE Wrestling Champion, Marc Mero , offered an enlightening motivational speech on some of life’s most difficult choices.
Mero has been in his fair share of battles, both in the ring and out. He shared with students his life of the greatest highs and lowest lows. Mero grew up in a dangerous part of Buffalo, N.Y., where his parents divorced at an early age. He lived in poverty with his mother and siblings.
Mero told students, “I always knew I wanted more in my life. I was always a dreamer.” He held up a small notebook, and explained that he used to write down all of the things he wanted.
“I wrote my dreams into existence,” Mero said. He wished for fame, for money, for a boat and a nice car. He wished he could buy his mother a house. He believed he could make these things happen – that is, until he started hanging out with the “wrong people.”
Mero became involved in alcohol and drug abuse. It happened so fast, he said. He neglected family members and pushed away the people who loved him. He lived this lifestyle until one day, at the age of 30, he decided he would become a professional wrestler and boxer.
And he did. He followed this dream and he made it big. He bought his mom a house, and all of the things he wrote in his dream book. He believed he was happy, until he started using his newfound riches to fall back into his old habits. He used it to fund his drug and alcoholic abuse.
“I lost everything. I thought having money and expensive things would make me the happiest man alive, but I had never been so sad and empty in my life,” said Mero.
Mero explained that throughout his life, he had lost many of the people who loved him most. His mother, father, young sister and brother all passed away. He presented a list of over 30 friends who had passed away due to overdoses and other drug-related causes.
“I should be on that list,” he said. “I have overdosed and faced death three times. I should be there. But I believe there is a reason I’m here today.”
Mero stressed to DePaolo students the importance of life, the value of living in the moment, and the gift of family and friends. He also talked about being kind to one another, insisting that bullying is more than just words. “You never know what another student is going through,” he said. “Your words can kill. Your perception becomes your reality.”
Mero left students with two challenges: start writing down your dreams and aspirations, and if you have ever bullied another student, tell them you are sorry before the end of the day and offer friendship instead.
Emotions were high in the auditorium as Mero’s words set in. Students and teachers felt the impact of his message.
Assistant principal Chris Palmieri was thankful for Mero’s presentation. “We need to get this message out as much as we possibly can. Even if we can just help a few students, that’s huge.”
Palmieri explained that a student who knew about Mero’s story and his presentations approached the administration and requested that they have him come and share his personal presentation. “We knew that this was important,” he said.
Mero has presented his empowering messages at more than 2,000 schools. He constantly receives letters and messages from listeners. He said the most common theme, and the one he cherishes the most, is, “this changed my life.”
Find out more about Mero’s journey to spread positivity and awareness at thinkPOZ.org and access links to social media, information on upcoming events, testimonials, presentation scheduling with Mero and more.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.