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People attending the 101st annual Havre Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday had a small box of Russell Stover Chocolates next to their plates. That was a signal of things to come. The candy was to help people through motivational speaker Steve Weber's talk based on the life of fictional movie character Forrest Gump. Much of the talk centered on Gump's "Life is like a box of chocolates ..." quote. Mixing humor with seriousness and a healthy dose of "Forrest Gump" quotes, Weber gave advice to the chamber members about life's opportunities and challenges. Weber, a native of Philadelphia, worked for several years at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., where he developed a talent for impersonating the star of the 1992 film. "I began to think of ways I could put this to good use," he said. Gump had the right mix of humor and down-to-earth solid advice, Weber felt. So he moved from the company's California headquarters to Hamilton, "because that's where I wanted to live." A follower of the Lewis & Clark J o u r n a l s , Weber said h e w a s a l w a y s intrigued by the Bitterroot Val ley. He visited Kalispell and other area communities, but liked Hamilton the most. "I loved the mountains," he said. Gump was an inspiration, he said, because he held to his principles throughout. "Everybody else in the movie changed," he said. "But Forest stays the same. He faced adversity and problems. He kept to his principles. He rolls with the punches." Now he travels a ross the country, addressing business groups, corporate staffs and "just about any group of people." And he still works for the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., eight or nine times a year, performing Forrest skits for opening of new restaurants. His talk centered on selfreliance, optimism, goal development, planning and communicatoon. Forrest excelled at all those, except planning, Weber told the crowd. Forrest was the embodiment of personal responsibility, he said. "He asked for no handouts." "He didn't ask you to bail him out when the shrimp take wasn't good," he said. Weber urged the audience "to take action in the face of a tough environment." "Don't look for the Chamber to solved your problems ... don't look for the town ... the state ... the president to solve your problems," he advised. "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get," he said, is something like saying the glass is halfempty. "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what's inside," is a more optimistic approach that Forrest embodies, he said. Weber urged people to pick up the feathers that fall in front of them, as Forrest did in the movie. "It might look like a dirty old feather," he said. "Pick it up anyway." Gump was good at overcoming adversity, he said. "We have things in life we don't expect," he said. "Lots of times things come up in life that don't work out. "You have no choice but to keep going," Weber said. Weber got the crowd worked up, convincing them to cheer "Run Forest, run," a mock effort to prompt Gump to seek the presidency.


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