deliver positive message to kids
by Seth Mates
STAMFORD, Conn. -- May 7, 2002 -- Prior to tonight's SmackDown! taping at the Arena at HarborYard in Bridgeport, Conn., four members of the SmackDown! crew -- Stacy Keibler, Maven, Albert and D-Von -- headed to the Palace Theatre in downtown Stamford to speak on behalf of WWE's "Get R.E.A.L." program.
The foursome addressed about 1,500 teenagers at the venue, which is just minutes from WWE headquarters. The program -- which stands for "Respect, Education, Achievement and Leadership" -- has become a staple of WWE's community relations department.
Albert addressed the crowd first, stressing the importance of setting goals. He detailed his own past, including his time as a teacher, and told the kids that knowledge is power.
"You're building the foundation of life in school," he said. "You will need it to be sturdy later on in life."
D-Von spoke of growing up in a bad part of Brooklyn, N.Y., with drugs running rampant in his neighborhood. He talked about how WWE programming helped keep his mind focused on more positive goals, and he encouraged the kids to follow their interests.
"I saw bad things happening all around me, and I was determined to stop that cycle," D-Von said. "I refused to let that happen. You can always stop that cycle, no matter what. Today, I'm happy to say that I'm a success story."
The former WWE, WCW and ECW Tag Team Champion encouraged the kids to pursue their dreams, however unattainable they may seem at times.
"No matter how crazy it may sound, go for it," he said. "You never know. The more you put into it, the more you get out of it."
At just 22 years old, Stacy was the closest in age to the kids in the audience, and she pointed out that it was just a few years ago that she was sitting right where they were.
"We've been there, we've sat there, and now, here we are," she told the audience. "And you can do it too."
Maven spoke about making good choices. He also talked about his background in sports, and how they helped him grow as a person.
"I always knew that I wanted to do something sports-oriented, and that kept me focused," Maven said. "Anything you want in life, you can have, if you stay focused.
"Each and every one of us up here on stage has a different story. We all had choices to make, the same as yours. I've had knuckleheads try to get me to do things I didn't want to do, and I chose not to get involved with those things. I knew to achieve my goals, I had to choose the right thing. I wouldn't be here otherwise."
After each superstar spoke, they fielded questions from the audience.
One student asked why the superstars decided to get involved with "Get R.E.A.L."
"It's the fans that make us, and it's the fans that break us," D-Von said. "This is our chance to give back."
The four superstars left the stage to a huge ovation, and they had clearly given the students something to think about.
"That was so cool of them to come down here today," said Roger, a ninth-grader from Stamford. "They really are great role models, and they definitely inspired me to work hard and set goals, that I can make it if I try."
Click here for more on the "Get R.E.A.L." program!