Alice Campbell Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
After a string of strength feats, including bending a half-inch diameter hotrolled steel bar while holding it between their teeth, Kevin Suter and Aaron Foster, members of the Mike Hagen Strength Team, delivered a powerful and quieting message. "You're starting to look at dreams and goals," Suter told Havre Middle School students in attendance. "One small mistake" with drugs or alcohol "can flush your dreams," he added. He shared the story of a Navy Seal who, after drinking heavily for the first time on his 21st birthday, hit an 8-year-old boy with his truck and then dragged the body all the way back to his home without realizing it until his wife made the discovery the following morning. He was sentenced to jail time and hanged himself in his cell a few months later. Suter emphasized that the man thought his actions were "not that big of a deal" before he realized what he had done. "It can end your entire life," Suter told students. "It's hard to raise kids. It's hard to teach them good values," and even harder when there's only one parent, Suter said. He also warned students about the dangers of drugs by sharing the story of his uncle who tried methamphetamine once and couldn't stop. His uncle went from being an upstanding person with a family and a career to living in his car and stealing to pay for his habit, Suter said. The family still struggles with broken relationships that resulted from his uncle's drug addiction, he said and warned students that "you are never in control of any substance." "I was lucky" and never did drugs, Suter said after the assembly. He added that his involvement in a church while growing up helped to keep him out of trouble even while his friends were getting in it. "(Church) was really the turning point for me," he said. Personally, Suter struggled with acceptance issues growing up because his father never told him he loved him unless he did well with an external tasks such as scoring a lot of points during a football game. He told students that he internalized feeling inadequate because of his father's words as anger and began to bully others verbally and physically. Then when he was in college, after a near-miss head-on collision, the other person followed him, pulled up alongside and "cocked a .45 pistol in my face." It was then that Suter realized "there's someone out there bigger, badder and definitely crazier." "Being a bully leads you nowhere in life," Suter said and encouraged students to avoid becoming a physical or verbal bully. Instead, kids should surround themselves with friends who are good influences. "If you don't see them making it, what makes you think you will?" Suter asked students. One wrong decision in life can mean ruin and one right decision can mean a higher level of success, Suter said. "We are born to chose the decisions in our lives." Suter and Foster are two of 21 members of the Mike Hagen Strength Team that travels the world delivering inspirational messages to school-aged children and communities. Later this year, the team will travel to Brazil and give 40-50 assemblies. "Every young person has a seed of potential in their life, but it is up to each student, individually to make the choices in order to achieve success. Success is earned!" Mike Hagen, founder and president of the organization and also a former member of the Seattle Seahawks, wrote on the team's Web site. Getting to "hit (kids) on their level" and seeing their reactions to the message and feats of strength, are his favorite parts of his job. The team is in Havre and will be performing through Sunday night, every night at 7 at the Community Alliance Church. They have shared their message with schools in Big Sandy, Havre and are in Chinook today. Joe Wetsch, youth pastor at Community Alliance Church, said the church decided to bring the team to Havre because of its powerful message that shows how "small things can have big consequences." For more information, call 265-8482 or visit www.mhschoolassemblies.com.