The only knowledge Michael Gershe has of his mother is through a videotape.
Shortly after it was filmed, Gershe’s mother was killed in a drunk driving accident. Gershe himself, then only 11 weeks old, would have almost every bone in his body broken after the impact threw him across the vehicle’s interior.
“The fact that I am 30 years old and standing here is nothing short of a miracle,” Gershe said.
Speaking in front of nearly all Cabrini College athletes, Gershe’s message touched more on the zeal of living than his darker, personal stories.
Gershe has chosen to follow in his mother’s footsteps. After receiving his Master’s degree in higher education from the University of Akron, Gershe began a speaking tour known as “The Magic of Life.” His program, which came to Cabrini College on Thursday, Oct. 28, educates young people on the dangers of drunk driving in an unorthodox way. Focusing on the importance of life, his love of KISS and engaging the audience through comedic bits, Gershe is far from the typical inspirational speaker.
“When you believe in yourself strongly, you learn to stand up for yourself,” Gershe said. “That’s why I’m a KISS fan—you have to be your own individual and no one can ever take that away from you. When you come to school, you feel the need to please all sorts of people. In your life, you only have to please yourself.”
Dana Nardello, senior early childhood & elementary education major and midfielder for the Cabrini women’s soccer team, was among the many in attendance.
“I thought he had a great message,” Nardello said in a phone interview. “There’s a lot of drinking in college and it’s important to make sure people are being safe about it. I met [Gershe] before the presentation and he was really down-to-earth. He has a great sense of humor.”
Gershe shared a story about losing a friend to drunk driving.
“To have to call my best friends up and tell them that John died was one of the worst feelings of my entire life…and I stand here today to say that none of you want to go through that, especially at your age.”
Despite everything, Gershe preaches a message of optimism.
“Alcohol never solves anything. There’s always conflicts and fights,” Gershe said. “You have to learn to embrace every moment you’re here alive. Today, right now, this is my greatest day…I do this because I have to stand up for the people who aren’t here, whether it’s my mom or someone else.”