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Petrocelli's speech makes impact on Creston community

Published: Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 12:36 p.m. CST • Updated: Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 12:46 p.m. CST

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Students at Creston High School called him the best speaker they've ever heard. His message "You Matter" was read all over social media last week in the form of hashtags and Facebook statuses.

Motivational speaker Bobby Petrocelli made an impact on students at Creston School District during his speeches last Tuesday.

"Facebook and Twitter exploded after Bobby's speech," said Angie Bolinger, guidance counselor at Creston High School. "The students, teachers and community had nothing but good comments about Bobby. I think his overall message that everyone matters was really accepted by the students. His speech really was the icing on the cake for Bullying Prevention Month at our school."

Petrocelli was brought in by Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), Youth Answering the Call of the Community (YACC), First National Bank and Iowa State Savings Bank to conclude Bullying Prevention Month in Creston School District.

Petrocelli spoke Tuesday to students at East Union in the morning, Creston in the late morning and afternoon and Creston community that evening. Each speech lasted about 60 minutes.

And, one of his many "you make a difference" stories involved a man named Alan.

Petrocelli told his audiences about a man named Alan, who owned a medical supply company in California, that called him up recently and asked him to come speak to a group of his employees.

But, Alan told Petrocelli on the phone, before I fly you out here to come speak, can I ask you a few personal questions?

Petrocelli agreed to answering them.

Alan asked: "Are you the Bobby Petrocelli who grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y.? Are you the nephew of Rico Petrocelli, professional baseball player for the Boston Red Sox?

Petrocelli answered: "Yes."

"I grew up three blocks from you," Alan said. "Let me tell you a story."

Alan started by telling Petrocelli, growing up in Brooklyn, he and many of the other kids in the neighborhood always looked up to him, partly because Bobby was the nephew of Rico Petrocelli.

Alan, about two or three years younger than Petrocelli, said that, from a distance, he'd often watch Petrocelli and his other friends playing baseball together at a nearby neighborhood baseball complex after school and on the weekends.

Alan never got too close though.

Then one day, after Alan had just received a new baseball mitt from his parents, he got up enough courage to get a little closer to the complex and to his surprise Petrocelli asked Alan if he wanted to play. Alan, of course, said yes and played baseball all afternoon and evening with the older boys.

When it was time to go home, Petrocelli walked home with Alan. Then, Alan realized he'd left his brand new glove back at the baseball complex. They went back to get the glove and the older boys were playing with. Alan walked up to them and asked for the glove back, but they refused to give it back to Alan.

Petrocelli, well respected by the older boys, immediately stood up for Alan, demanding the older boys give the glove back. They did, and Alan and Petrocelli ventured back home for a second time.

Petrocelli told Alan before going their separate directions home that evening, he was heading upstate for a little while, but when he came back he would come by Alan's place and they'd go play baseball again with the older boys.

But, Alan never got that chance again. Alan's dad got a job on the west coast and Alan left before Petrocelli returned.

Petrocelli admitted to Tuesday's audiences, he barely remembered Alan. But, because of the kind gestures he made that day, Alan did remember him.

Emma Johnson, senior YACC member who introduced Petrocelli Tuesday, said Petrocelli's message that "you matter" and the actions you make each day have really sunk in with students at CHS since last Tuesday.

"Everyone was talking about Bobby in class the next day," Johnson said. "I think the message he got across to us is each and every decision we make, no matter how minor, counts. I don't think this one speech can completely prevent bullying at our school, but it may have gotten through to some students and maybe they will take a little extra time before bullying or criticizing someone. And, that could really impact our school and change it for the better."

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