Mike spoke to students at Sylacauga HS on Thursday, August 10. He shared Philip’s story, and the ways everyone can love, live and learn from Philip’s life and the tragic circumstances that ended it.
This story always resonates with those who hear it – especially with teenagers going through the tough years of figuring out self-identity and how to withstand peer pressure. In Sylacauga, Mike’s message hit particularly close to home with two boys in the crowd.
When lifelong friends Lane and Jonas heard Mike was coming to speak about his son’s death that resulted from a car accident, they were filled with anxiety. Lane’s parents were nervous, too. How would they be able to sit through Mike’s story without having to relive their own?
When Lane was five years old, his 16-year-old sister died as a result of a reckless driving accident. The SUV was speeding at 100mph when it flipped. All five people in the car were thrown out – his sister was only one who died.
After Mike spoke, he received an email from Jonas’s mom.
I would like to thank you for coming to our small town to speak. You delivered a message that speaks to people of all ages. I was truly touched by your story. My heart breaks for your family and your tragic loss of a beautiful child. God has blessed you with the courage to come into communities and speak to our youth about making good decisions. He is truly working through you.
I wanted to share with you what my 12-year-old son said on our way home. He said, “Momma, you know, that man spoke from his heart and he was so honest. He talked about what a good person his son was and told stories of good things he did, but he also said he made a bad decision. He is a real person that really wants us kids to make better decisions. I'm glad I got to hear him and meet him. I hope I can be someone that makes a difference one day.”
Mike followed up with Jonas’s mom after receiving such a powerful email.
“After experiencing such a tragedy at a young age, it meant a lot to those boys to hear about the great legacy that [Mike’s] son left and the heart he had,” said Jonas’s mom. She said that hearing Mike speak about the positive change that had come out of Philip’s death made a huge impact on her son and his friend. It showed them that tragedy could be used as a platform to produce growth and bring healing.
“We have always preached to our kids to always make good decisions, using Jessica’s death as an example,” she said. “How [Mike] spoke that night was so from the heart and so brutally honest.” She said hearing the message from someone else who had experienced a similar tragedy really struck a chord with the boys.
“It meant so much to see that this man was raw and cared; it was amazing that he could tell his story to them,” she said. “I think every high school child and adult should hear Mike speak. I’ve heard a lot of speakers, but Mike is the most powerful speaker I have ever heard.”