Marc Mero empowers youth, inspires good choices

Former professional wrestler and motivational speaker Marc Mero educates the audience about choices, Paiute Tribal Center, Cedar City, Utah, March 31, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

CEDAR CITY — Thanks to the passionate determination of two Cedar City women, lives were changed for the better after witnessing the real-life testimony of motivational speaker Marc Mero in his presentation “Champion of Choices.”

Former professional wrestler and motivational speaker Marc Mero educates the audience about choices, Paiute Tribal Center, Cedar City, Utah, March 31, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
Former professional wrestler and motivational speaker Marc Mero educates the audience about choices, Paiute Tribal Center, Cedar City, Utah, March 31, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

Mero gave two separate lectures Thursday: one for Canyon View Middle School students and one for the community at the Paiute Tribal Center.

After overcoming a lifetime of adversity and hardships — including the death of 30 loved ones in only a year due to poor choices — Mero, a former professional wrestler, became a nationally renowned advocate for positive life choices and taking a stand.

“I will spend the rest of my life trying to help as many people as I possibly can,” he said to the Paiute Tribal Center audience. “You all matter. You are all valuable. You are all special and talented and beautiful.”

Mero shared personal childhood stories of poverty and struggles, including his rise to the top with a promising boxing career before spiraling to the bottom after an accident, followed by rising once again to the top through professional wrestling, making a name for himself around the world and then plummeting back down to ground zero.

Despite all of the money and fame, Mero said he just wasn’t happy. Poor choices fueled by toxic relationships, drugs and alcohol frequently pulled him down, and thoughts of suicide were not uncommon. All of these choices affected the relationships he had with those who loved him most, he said.

Former professional wrestler and motivational speaker Marc Mero evokes tears when he shares personal stories of hardship, Paiute Tribal Center, Cedar City, Utah, March 31, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
Former professional wrestler and motivational speaker Marc Mero evokes tears when he shares personal stories of hardship, Paiute Tribal Center, Cedar City, Utah, March 31, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

Mero shared the emotional personal story of Amy Briggs, a woman whose 16-year-old son, Daniel, took his own life after years of bullying and abuse at the hands of other students.

“Daniel had really been bullied most of his school career,” Amy Briggs said in the video projected onto the wall of the gymnasium. “When he hit high school, it exploded … you name it, they looked for any little thing, just to make him miserable.”

Daniel Briggs shot himself March 3, 2014, in his parents home while they were at his brother’s basketball game following a text message from one of the bullies telling him to do the world a favor and kill himself.

Daniel told everyone that day on the way home from school that he was planning to kill himself, Amy Briggs said, explaining that a friend who had heard about it tried to call her husband while they were in the basketball game, but they missed the call.

Former professional wrestler and motivational speaker Marc Mero educates the audience about choices, Paiute Tribal Center, Cedar City, Utah, March 31, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
Former professional wrestler and motivational speaker Marc Mero educates the audience about choices, Paiute Tribal Center, Cedar City, Utah, March 31, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

Words can kill, Mero said, adding that it was time to take a stand against bullying once and for all.

“I meet students every day that feel unloved (and) unwanted,” Mero said. “(They) feel ashamed, feel afraid to go to school. They have anxiety walking up to the school doors because words can kill.”

Eighth grade Canyon View Middle School student John Platt said Mero’s message Thursday changed his life. The production was so powerful that he brought his mom, Cherese Platt, to see it at the Paiute Tribal Center that night.

“My mom knows how much I really don’t want to go to school,” John Platt said, explaining that he was having difficulties getting along with a teacher and was struggling with his learning disability. “I’m actually looking forward to the next few weeks.”

Bullying can come in all forms, said Cedar City resident Janice Scarinci, who says she’s been no stranger to the subject. Mero’s message has empowered her to take a stand for herself and not let other people’s opinions dictate how she feels about herself.

Former professional wrestler and motivational speaker Marc Mero takes time to sign autographs and shake hands with audience members after the presentation, Paiute Tribal Center, Cedar City, Utah, March 31, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
Former professional wrestler and motivational speaker Marc Mero takes time to sign autographs and shake hands with audience members after the presentation, Paiute Tribal Center, Cedar City, Utah, March 31, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

“Words hurt, and people need to know that,” Scarinci said, “because kids don’t even realize that the things that they say today will impact another person’s tomorrow.”

When Canyon View Middle School Principal Conrad Aitken first learned of Mero’s background as a professional wrestler, he said he was a bit apprehensive.

“I am happy to say I couldn’t have been more wrong,” Aitken said. “Every kid should have the opportunity to hear his message.”

The students were absolutely enthralled throughout the presentation, he said, adding that one kid who has been struggling for awhile came up to him after the assembly and thanked him for helping to change his life by bringing Mero to Cedar City.

The student told him that he had dealt with a lot of the same troubles in his life, and Mero gave him confidence that it could get better.

Former professional wrestler and motivational speaker Marc Mero takes time to sign autographs, shake hands and take pictures with audience members after the presentation, Paiute Tribal Center, Cedar City, Utah, March 31, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
Former professional wrestler and motivational speaker Marc Mero takes time to sign autographs, shake hands and take pictures with audience members after the presentation, Paiute Tribal Center, Cedar City, Utah, March 31, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

“A lot of the stuff Marc Mero shared dealt with hardships I have never had in my life,” Aitken said. “It made me realize that as much as I believe I connect with the students that I want to help, sometimes I really just don’t understand what they are dealing with, and they know that.”  

The ability to connect with Mero’s story and resonate with his experiences is fundamental in getting through to the students who think there is no one who understands them, Aitken said.

The entire cost to bring Mero to Cedar City was raised by two Cedar City women through bake sales, donations and entry fees at the door to the Paiute Tribal Center for the community event.


Read more: Cedar City moms rally; Fight youth bullying, suicide, drug abuse


Cedar City resident Misty Cheek first saw a 2-minute trailer of Mero’s production online, and she made it her mission to find a way to share his powerful message with the people she loved most: her grandchildren.

When her friend Yvette VanSant caught wind of Cheek’s goal to raise enough money to bring Mero to Cedar City, she jumped at the chance to help, she said, because she believed it would make a difference for community children.

“My sister’s son killed himself because he was bullied,” VanSant said, adding that drugs are rampant among Cedar City youth, and positive choices can help make a difference. “(My kids) have told me that drugs are severe, they make it look like candy and say, ‘oh, try this, it’s just a resin ball of pot,’ but it’s not, it’s heroin.”

The two women raised enough money to break even and donate a $36.67 overage to the Iron County Summer Lunch program.

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Email: cmiller@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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