Motivational speaker spreads message of hope to students

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 6:37 PM CDT
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Upbeat music filled the auditorium at Rutherford High School Monday morning.

Students looked on as motivational speaker Reggie Dabbs poured his heart out.

“I grew up in a broken home, broken family,” Dabbs said. “I don’t know my father. If he were walking in this room I wouldn’t know who he was.”

Dabbs was able to connect with students because many of them may have struggles as well.

“We are always hoping to see how we can best encourage our students to graduate and to make it through the high school experience, and to excel in life,” said Principal of Rutherford High School Robert Todd Mitchell.

Excelling can be difficult when faced with outside struggles.

Bay District Schools reports there are more than 800 students who are considered homeless and five Baker Acts have been reported this school year alone.

Administrators hope Dabbs’ story will help students see a brighter future for themselves.

“He’s made it,” Mitchell said. “He’s an encouragement to people who have had those types of experiences, who’ve lived that kind of life, who maybe came out of foster care or had some rough upbringings.”

Dabbs said he hopes his personal life story will give students hope.

He travels to schools all around the world to share his important message.

Fast forward nearly 40 years later, Dabbs says his goal is to give people encouragement, regardless of their background.

“I grew up in the foster care system,” Dabbs said. “I didn’t have a last name until I was 12, but yet a teacher and her husband who was a school janitor didn’t have to but they took me in their home.”

The program was funded by the Bay County Health Department and the Freedom 180 program.

Dabbs is speaking to other Bay District Schools on Tuesday.