The Southern Arizona Autism Association along with other community organizations and members worked collaboratively to bring the Champion of Choices program to our schools for children from grades 3-12. The Champion of Choices is a 3-day educational program that teaches students the importance of positive decision making, the dangers of substance abuse, peer pressure, and anti-bullying campaign for the prevention of suicide. Make It Stop Tour was a free event held at the Nogales High School James K Clark Auditorium. Mr. Jaime Chamberlain delivered a speech for the community and Dr. Marcelino Varona introduced Marc Mero. Parents joined their children for a one-hour presentation with Marc followed by a meet and greet. The Make It Stop Tour emphasizes the importance of the community along with an anti-bullying program for suicide prevention. Several attendees were engaged and became emotional throughout this powerful presentation. “We are extremely grateful to be able to have community leaders join us for this community event. More than 5000 people participated in this 3-day event,” said Michelle Jacquez, President of So.AZ Autism Association.
Many people may question why would the Southern Arizona Autism Association be interested in supporting such a program. The answer is simple, disabled children are 60% more likely to get bullied annually. According to the CDC special needs, children are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide.
“The autism community struggles with depression and anxiety making it difficult for them to socialize. As a community we need to work together to encourage our children to stand against bullying,” said. Michelle Jacquez
President of So.AZ Autism Association. The first day Marc Mero Hero’s presentation was held for grades 3-5 at the Nogales High School James K Clark Auditorium. Students from all 6 elementary schools from NUSD attended. Rey and Meleeke educated students on the importance of good choices and self-esteem – I can, I Am, I believe, Dream Big! a45 minute presentation. Facilitators for this project were Dr. Tanya Henry, Dr. Frank Bejarano, and Edgard Echeverria.
Day two Champion of Choices program took was held at Wade Carpenter Middle School and Desert Shadows Middle School for grades 6-8. Marc Mero, former WWE champion under the names of “Marvelous Marc Mero” and “Johnny B Badd” are the founders of Champion of Choices nonprofit.
They have presented to over 2000 schools nationwide and travel internationally with their BADD Tour and Make it Stop Tour. Marc Mero gave a powerful testimony that had students, teachers, and staff in tears. Marc shared during his presentation he had experienced being bullied himself as a child. Following his presentation, many students reached out to him directly on Instagram with positive feedback, thanking him for his testimony and the impact it had on their lives.
Nogales High School students grades 9-12 had a more in-depth presentation, which covered topics on substance abuse and peer pressure during Marc Mero’s career as a wrestler. Mero educated students on the importance of making positive decisions, setting goals and dreaming big. Many students also had an opportunity to talk to Marc on one on one. “We are so happy that the So. AZ Autism Association in conjunction with Chamberlain Distributing brought this opportunity to Santa Cruz County. Marc Mero is a genuine inspiration he inspires audiences throughout the country. Our children have benefited tremendously from his presence. We are grateful to Michelle Jacquez, President of So.AZ Autism Association,” said Ramon Miranda.
The Southern Arizona Autism Association would like to thank Mr. & Mrs. J. E. Chamberlain, the Nogales Unified School District #1 , Citizens Auto Stage , Mr. Ramon Miranda & the Miranda Family , Caza BJJ academy -Edgard Echeverria & the Echeverria Family, Nogales Police Department, Santa Cruz County Adolescent Wellness Network Ms. Cassalyn David and Paola Hernandez and the Santa Cruz County Schools Superintendent Alfredo Velasquez, the families for Autism Support Group , Mayor John Doyle , Councilman Joe Maldonado, Superintendent Fernando Parra & Judith Mendoza, Dr. Marcelino Varona , County Attorney George Silva, Border Patrol agent Alan Regalado , Officer Mesta, Officer Andrade & Officer De la Ossa , Dr. Tanya Henry , Rich Brennan , Dr. Frank Bejarano , Jose “Pepe” Padilla, MIKID, and the people of Santa Cruz County for all their support and participation in this project.