Former Survivor contestant speaks to students on stigmas of mental health, drug addiction

Published: Mar. 22, 2018 at 11:36 AM EDT
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A former contestant of the hit show, "Survivor," is using his platform to help others.

On Wednesday, Rodney Lavoie Jr. visited Marietta College to talk to students about breaking the stigmas of mental health and addiction.

"It's very important right now," he said.

Lavoie, a contestant on the show's 30th season, lost a sister to a drug overdose. He used his pain to fuel his purpose.

"The loss of my sister has motivated me," he said.

As the CEO of Warriors of Purpose, he travels all over the country speaking to students and various communities about conquering obstacles like bullying, depression, and anxiety. The non-profit provides education and resources to tackle those issues. He teamed up with Dr. William M. Bauer, an education professor at Marietta College, to maintain the mission of the nonprofit.

"When I go to a school or a venue and I speak and I share my story of losing my sister Natalie and I share my pain and we have individuals like Doctor Bill Bauer and professionals on site who know who can scope out the ones that need extra attention when you leave an impact on the school and we now have a one on one with them after we have a large group in that school, after not only can we speak to the entire school but we can also figure out what problems are going on with certain individuals by the words we speak," he said.

Eric Klopfenstein, an education major at Marietta College, says he's happy Lavoie came to his school to talk.

"He's a big inspiration," he said.

"I took a bunch from his speech. He said it takes passion to fix these problems. You have to grind down and get dirty and have that passion and strength like Rodney has."

Lavoie says he uses the lessons he learned on Survivor throughout his daily life.

"It was one of the craziest experiences of my life. It was the adventure of a lifetime. It challenged me mentally, physically, and emotionally."