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Motivational speaker visits Albemarle High School

By Jesse Deal, for the SNAP

Motivational speaker Reggie Dabbs provided words of wisdom, music and laughter at Albemarle High School recently.

The Florida native and internationally-renowned speaker spoke for 45 minutes to an auditorium that was packed with students, parents and teachers, capping off a visit to Stanly County that included an appearance at many local high schools.

The event kicked off with Dabbs playing his saxophone along to the backing tracks of popular music hits such as Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are” and Katy Perry’s “Roar.”

His next segment was a personal story of hope that began as a humorous anecdote but soon became an inspirational message.

A few years ago, Dabbs was in San Francisco in preparation to take a flight to New Zealand, where he planned to speak to a school. As fate would have it, he missed his flight and was forced to stay at a hotel until the next day. That night, a magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck the local area and chaos ensued.

Dabbs logged online to search for news of the calamity, but instead stumbled upon a story of an earthquake in Armenia 30 years ago. Through pure perseverance, an Armenian man dug through school debris for 39 straight hours to rescue his trapped son, along with 23 other students. The night before the earthquake, that same father had promised his son that he would always be there for him.

The story reduced Dabbs to tears.

“The voice in my head as I was reading this story was asking me, ‘Reggie, who dug you up and who saved you?’ Dabbs told the auditorium.

“I grew up in foster care my entire life – my mom gave me away,” he said. “I have a brother and two sisters. She kept them but said that I was a mistake, so she gave me to her favorite teacher in school. From 8 years old till 21, I didn’t want to live; the shame of not having a home and of not having a last name. No one wanted me. However, I found out as I got older that there’s hope for everyone.”

Dabbs encouraged the audience to use the school system and educational resources to help benefit children and give them life goals for the future. He spoke of his appearance at West Stanly High School earlier in the day, in which a student came up to him after his speech with a lot on her mind.

She told Dabbs that his message of positivity had given her the motivation to get past the problems that have been plaguing her life recently.

“Everybody has bad things that happen – hurt and sorrow, disappointments, and sometimes it just piles on top until they think they’re buried,” Dabbs said. “All I want to do is help move some of the pain. I’m reaching to into their lives and saying ‘it’s alright, we’re going to get you out.’ There’s hope for everyone. No matter where you are or where you’ve been, there’s always hope. There is a plan for your life.”

Jesse Deal is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.