GREENSBURG – Hundreds of students across the county now believe that “down is inevitable—up is a choice.”
Former professional basketball player and current youth motivational speaker Chad Varga visited numerous schools in the city and county districts recently to share his harrowing and inspiring message. Varga grew up in Detroit, in the care of a mother battling drug and alcohol addiction. He said he was destined to be a statistic. He suffered horrendous abuse, poverty, and neglect through his childhood and turned to sports as a teen.
Basketball became his refuge, and countless hours practicing gave him the skill to go toe to toe with the best. By this time, he was married with two beautiful children, playing in a professional league overseas, with life-changing prospects waiting just around the corner. At the height of his career, Varga walked away from it all.
Becoming a parent had changed something fundamental in Varga’s heart. He was watching his happy, healthy children and realized with gut-wrenching certainty that there were children who weren’t safe, or happy, or healthy – he had been one of them. Varga remembered what it was like to feel alone, worthless, and utterly bereft of hope.
The Chad Varga Company was created to give Varga a way to reach out to others and share his story. Varga travels the country, speaking to young people and inspiring them to overcome the adversity they face, exceed their potential, and achieve their dreams. CVC was founded on the premise that every life and every dream matters – regardless of past or present circumstances.
Varga spoke to students at the elementary, junior high, and high school levels while in Decatur County, inspiring hundreds of students to overcome whatever they may be dealing with to become successful. Due to the content of his message, Varga doesn’t often speak to students under sixth grade but made an exception for the fourth and fifth graders at Greensburg Elementary School. Some of the students hearing Varga’s message at each school were affected more than others, as they may be facing similar situations in their own lives.
Varga’s speeches were intense, bringing many people to tears, and the lines to speak with him directly afterward showed how many were inspired by his words. Often, Varga waited after his presentations, speaking individually to the students who needed to hear his inspiring message most.
The heart of what Varga wants to leave behind in the people he speaks to is hope. For 18 years, he struggled to learn lessons in overcoming his surroundings and the inclination to fall into the addictive, abusive lifestyle which was all he knew. Now, he strives to teach others they can bounce back from what they are facing and end up stronger than ever. According to Varga, “Down is inevitable. Up is a choice.”
Since starting CVC, Varga has spoken to more than four million students across 50 states. Varga wrote a book, “Bounce: Down is inevitable. Up is a choice.” The book has been celebrated for its message and is currently used as part of the curriculum in many schools with the addition of the educator activity guide and student journal.
By the time he was finished, Varga had the rapt attention of everyone in the room. To close out his time at GES, Varga called all the students down to the gym floor for a huddle, where he implored them to “just stop.” To stop being mean, to stop bullying, to stop treating other people as if they were less important.
“You matter,” Varga said. “Your dreams matter.”