After hearing former World Wrestling Entertainment intercontinental champion Marc Mero share his powerful story last week, Mattituck High School sophomore Mackayla Marmar knew she wanted to hear more of Mr. Mero’s story. When she learned he was also set to speak at Southold High School Thursday night, she asked her aunt Maria Lutz to accompany her to the event.
“It really encouraged me to be better to others and to myself and to see life from a different perspective — that not everything you see in everyone is the way it actually is,” Mackayla said.
Mr. Mero has been a motivational speaker at schools for 17 years and is currently on a tour dubbed “Choices.” He also speaks in business settings on how to build a healthy corporate culture.
In his presentation, he outlines how his choices impacted his life — how they took him from the highest highs to very deep lows and back again. He speaks about growing up in Buffalo as a child of divorce, his time as a famous WWE wrestler, how he overcame drug addiction after more than 10 years and much more. He shares his experiences to spread a positive message and combat suicide, substance abuse, bullying and depression.
Last week, he spoke at Mattituck, Southold and Greenport high schools. He was last in the area in 2019, and both visits have been funded by Kait’s Angels. Joe and Darla Doorhy of Mattituck co-founded the nonprofit in 2014 after the death of their daughter Kaitlyn, and it’s since helped many North Fork and Shelter Island residents through fundraisers such as an annual community yard sale.
When Mr. Doorhy heard Mr. Mero speak in 2019 knew he had to bring him to the area again. When he began contacting schools to arrange Mr. Mero ‘s return, he said, all the schools “jumped right on it.”
“The guy is such a dynamic presenter,” Mr. Doorhy said. “He’s very animated up on stage and he captures the attention of the kids … it was such a success [the first time] even the school administrators said they have never seen a presenter that really touched these kids’ lives the way he did.”
Mr. Mero told the crowd that the stage was his therapy but his work inspiring the audience doesn’t end once he’s off the stage. Back in his hotel room, he spends as much as two to four hours speaking with many of the students and audience members he inspires. He said working with Kait’s Angels has been incredible.
“There’s no greater joy than helping these kids, these students,” Mr. Mero said in a phone interview. “I receive over 100 messages a day from kids and how the program changed or even saved their life, and we identify kids that are self-harming, that feel suicidal, and we’re able to get them the help they need.”
According to the American Psychological Association, more than 20% of teens have seriously considered suicide. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that focused on mental health and suicidal behaviors in high schoolers from 2011 to 2021 showed that 13% of high school girls and 7% of boys had attempted suicide.
Southold High School principal Terence Rusch said bringing Mr. Mero back is right in line with the district’s goal, which is to focus on social-emotional learning for students and faculty.
“His message is just on point, it’s relevant to what we’re doing right now and for Kait’s Angels to bring the three high schools together it just shows you how the North Fork continues to support one another,” Mr. Rusch said.
Jeff “Rocky” Hahn traveled from Mastic with his wife, son and his son’s girlfriend, who both have autism spectrum disorder. Mr. Hahn was a wrestler and knew Mr. Mero through a mutual friend from their wrestling days.
“I’ve been waiting for him to come out here for two years now,” Mr. Hahn said.
He said he hoped that hearing Mr. Mero’s story would motivate his son’s girlfriend, Adriana Pastore, who has been combating her own mental health issues,
“I’ve been having a hard time lately, so it was pretty nice,” Ms. Pastore said. “I nearly lost my dad; I can relate to technically losing someone because my dad has traumatic brain injury from attempting suicide.”
Darla Doorhy said that they’ve had nothing but amazing feedback from the community and that Mr. Mero’s story touched many lives.
“You just have to support the children; thats what Kait’s Angels is about,” she said. “We’re about the community and about helping children and reaching out to them.”
For more information on Mr. Mero, visit his website at thinkpoz.org. He can also be found on social media on the following formats, Facebook: Marc Mero, X: @MarcMero, Instagram: @marcmero, Youtube: The Marc Mero and Tik Tok: @marcmero.life