Gerald “Heavy Duty” Krueger is a former pro wrestler who is now a certified addictions counselor. At the end of the school day he gave our students a presentation in the school gym. Our Native American students were impressed by his feats of strength, like ripping decks of cards and car license plates in half. He took a frying pan and rolled it up like a burrito!
More important, however, was the message he tried to leave to them about being strong means not bullying and trying to treat others right. Picking on other kids, especially with cruel words, leaves long lasting scars and painful memories. He also ran with a crowd in his younger days where drugs and violence were common, and urged our kids to steer clear of those. He also connected with our students who don’t have a strong male role model in their life, reminding them that we don’t always understand the struggles of men who become absent fathers. He spoke out forcefully against suicide, and urged kids to get help when they feel overwhelmed.
As our students left the rec center, I saw several who had collected the torn up playing cards, or pieces of ripped up metal. Hopefully they will also remember the message Heavy Duty tried to communicate as they go through life’s ups and downs.