I've been to a lot of states, wether for BMX racing or public speaking. One place, however, that I have not been to is Maine. I think the only thing I actually knew about Maine is that their lobster is a must have. Upon arriving I was met with a friend and athlete of mine Jose Catano, who lives near Boston and not far from Biddeford Maine. We went down near the water and had one of the best lobster dinners i've ever had. The lobster most definitely lives up to the hype in Maine.
I was brought out to Biddeford at the efforts of a wonderful group of Rotarians. They worked hard at lining up sponsors and people to support their efforts in bringing me up to help fight the substance abuse issue they are currently having. What an amazing group of people too, they were pleasant and so accommodating to me. I never hide away when i'm brought into a community. I love to meet the people that brought me to their community and get to know them so they can also get to know me and my passion for helping others.
I had a tall order on my plate with three separate speaking events in one day. Coming off what I call the holiday season of speaking (July and August) my voice wasn't quite in shape. This is always what puts it right back in shape though. Lucky for me the voice box held up and I was able to deliver at all three spots.
To start my round of speeches off, I spoke to roughly 1300 students at Biddeford High School. The gym the students and I were in was top notch! The students were extremely respectful and received my speech very well. I usually can gauge the effectiveness afterwards by the amount of students who follow me on Instagram and send me personal messages. Over the course of all my speaking I gained about 500 followers and received 40+ messages from kids about how much they enjoyed my presentation or wanted to ask me questions about their own personal struggles.
My second speech was given to Thornton Academy. There was roughly another 1300 students inside this gym and it was one for the books. All of the students gave me a standing ovation at the end and that was just really touching for me. It felt good to see those kids so moved by my story!
My third and final speech was an open community event, something I often do when I travel to speak. There really was a very very special spot for this community in my heart and I learned exactly why at the community event. The stigmas that hold people in communities back are so strong that they will keep you from coming outside and addressing the issue. Social programs and program initiatives are what help fight this stigma and bring down the walls of hiding for those in the community who are suffering from it's effects. Biddeford is in the beginning stages of creating those programs and implementing things for kids, parents and addicts to get involved in and I think that is such a powerful thing. Rome was not built overnight and for me to come in and share my story of the successes I have built over time, one small piece at a time, was an amazing experience. I was able to share my thoughts and experiences at the end in what I believe was one of the more important questions and answer sessions i've been in. Biddeford will be on my heart and mind as they begin building infrastructure for the addict and families who are suffering from substance abuse. I'm blessed to have been called into their community!