NORTH CALDWELL, NJ - WWE champion Marc Mero told students of West Essex High School about choices leading to happiness in a “Dream Big” presentation on Oct. 29. WEHS was just one stop on Mero’s Dream Big tour, which he has been taking on the road across America to share his story and inspire students along the way.

"Life is not about winning the race," Mero said to students and faculty, "It's about finishing the race." 

Mero said he grew up in an impoverished area where kids were prone to involvement in substance abuse and gangs. He shared that his mother struggled to find new clothes for him--leaving him the victim of bullying.

As he was harassed and labeled a “bum,” Mero said his spirits were kept high by recording his hopes and dreams in a notebook, which he displayed to the WEHS audience. The notebook included dreams, such as: buying his mother a house, becoming famous and being a good person.

After his boxing career was halted, Mero said he became addicted to drugs and alcohol, which put a strain on his close relationship with his family.

After losing his mother, sister, and brother in his adult life and realizing his mistakes, Mero got back on track and has since become a symbol to teenagers that every choice affects their futures. He stressed to WEHS students how important it is to remain loyal to the people who “give love a meaning.”

Mero also motivated students to “take action” toward their goals. He highlighted the importance of choosing friends wisely, using his own experience an example.

“I hung out with losers and became the biggest loser of them all because I gave up everything I dreamed about,” Mero said.

Several members of the audience shed tears for Mero’s heart-breaking story.

Junior Sophie Moyer said, “It’s inspiring to see how he recovered from all the deaths in his family.”

Mero’s positive energy inspired many students to be aware of the effect their choices’ outcomes have on their lives. His impact on schools continues through his Dream Big tour across America.

Liv Ritter is a student at West Essex High School participating in a journalism program with TAPinto.net.