The Chick-fil-A leader academy joined nearly 2,500 other students in attending the first ever state-sponsored Teen Health Rally in Tupelo on Mar. 6. The event focused on things like suicide, self harm, teen drinking, irresponsible driving, and dropout prevention. The rally also featured many celebrity guest speakers, most of which were born in Mississippi.
The first of these speakers was Jody Dyess, director of student health with F.R.E.E International, which is an organization that strives to stop modern-day slavery. His main focus was on cyber-bullying and suicide, and he told the story of a girl named Emily who was being cyber-bullied by three other girls at her school. Eventually she attempted to take her own life. He revealed at the end of the story that Emily was his daughter.
“The worst thing I’ve ever experienced was seeing my daughter lying on the floor of the bathroom surrounded by pill bottles,” Dyess said.
He was followed by Ted Dibiase Jr., an ex-professional wrestler who grew up in Clinton, Mississippi.
“I’m tired of Mississippi being first at the worst,” Dibiase said.
Dibiase spoke of how to achieve success, and the five steps he used to become successful: choose trials, choose your time wisely, choose content wisely, choose your team wisely, and choose to be a part of something greater than yourself.
“I was chasing something bigger than myself,” Dibiase said. “The dream is free, but the journey is not.”
Demarco Fomby, a Mississippi speaker, provided a musical and upbeat speech about the power of passion, and how leadership is about the ability to influence.
“You want to see a change in your cost and in your state, ignite your passion.”
Before the final speaker, one of the local highway patrolmen did a presentation about driving without seatbelts. According to his statistics, more than 700 fatalities were recorded in Mississippi from driving without seatbelts.
The final speaker was Antonio Wright, former football coach and founder and CEO of Metro Area Community Empowerment Inc. Antonio Wright grew up in Jackson and became wheelchair bound after a bad car wreck when he was in college. Wright spoke about how vision is required to achieve your goal and be the best you can be.
Once wright had finished, all attendees began heading to the buses. The event brought attention to common struggles many teens go through, and those that hosted the event hope that all students attending left with something they could use to stay safe through their teenage years.