Lessard urges board to bring Marc Mero to Crookston, and offers to cover much of the cost

    Fighting back tears more than once, a Crookston mom pleaded with the Crookston School Board and Superintendent Jeremy Olson this week to allow a nationally known motivational speaker come to Crookston to speak to students.

    Melanie Lessard, accompanied by her youngest daughter, Brylee, who will be a senior at CHS in the fall, told board members she had $1,200 of her own money that she could donate immediately to go toward the cost of bringing Marc Mero to Crookston for three speaking engagements, which, she said, would cost $7,500. Lessard, who coordinates the Miss Tootsie Pageant that will be held for the third time during this year’s Ox Cart Days Festival in August, said she’d also donate the proceeds from the pageant to bringing Mero to Crookston.

    Mero, 55, was most well-known during his professional wrestling career, when he wrestled under the name of Johnn B. Badd. He has since gone on to a successful career as a motivational speaker at schools, churches and prisons, as well as an author. His book “How to be the Happiest Person on the Planet” published in 2010, and his anti-bullying message focuses on making “champion choices.”

    Lessard, who worked at Tri-County Community Corrections for years and has been on the Crookston Police Reserve for several years, said she’s seen firsthand how people struggle, and how their outlook can improve if someone takes the time to communicate positive messages to them. Lessard said that’s what Crookston students need: Someone to show them they care enough about them to communicate with them in meaningful ways.

    Youth today struggle with many of the same problems she did and her parents did, Lessard said, but the thing that’s different today is technology, which can compound those struggles.

    “Talking to our youth is key to making them strong and independent,” she told Olson and the board.

    When she was young, Lessard said she remembered speakers coming into her school periodically, and the positive impact their messages had on her. But, she added, those speakers are lacking today, even though some great ones are out there and would come to Crookston.

    When she was a kid, “Speakers would talk about all kinds of things, and then our teachers would put us in small groups and we’d talk about (the speaker’s message) afterward and ask questions,” Lessard recalled. “We could discuss our own matters, or write letters. And if one student was reached, it was a success.

    “We need to talk more with our children, to show we care about them and want to help,” she continued. “They will have our love; it doesn’t have to be bought.”

    Lessard noted that Mero would not discuss his religious beliefs during any presentations to Crookston students.

    Lessard said she’s reserved Wednesday, Nov. 13 for Mero to come to Crookston, and she said other schools could potentially partner with Crookston schools and help with the cost. Either way, Lessard said with her $1,200, another $500 pending donation she said she’s secured, and the proceeds from the Miss Tootsie Pageant, the school district wouldn’t have to come up with much money to bring Mero here.

    Lessard said some money in the form of a deposit will have to be put down in the coming days in order to officially book Mero in Crookston.

    Olson told Lessard he’s currently meet his counseling staff regarding Lessard’s request.