By Kathianne Boniello
More than 200 students at Our Lady of Snows school in Floral Park got a peek inside the life of an angry man last week, a man who spent more than an hour urging the children to use their anger to do good.
For about seven years, Richard Drorbaugh of Rye, N.Y. has made his life an open book with the hope of inspiring students to manage their negative emotions and channel their energy into positive choices.
The founder and executive director of a Massachusetts–based nonprofit, Go the Extra Mile, Drorbaugh, 39, told some 220 Floral Park students last Thursday to make healthy choices and avoid bottling up their emotions.
“We have to learn how to depend on each other,” Drorbaugh said.
Anger walked into his life at age 6, said Drorbaugh, the youngest of four children and the only son in a family of daughters. At that time his mother died of breast cancer, Drorbaugh said, and his father’s remarriage three years later did not assuage the anger.
“It seemed like everyone in my life who I loved was being ripped away from me,” he said. “I didn’t know how to manage. I was turning myself into a human volcano — I wish I had taken responsibility and reached out more for help.”
The students from Our Lady of Snows seemed to enjoy Drorbaugh’s presentation, especially when the energetic speaker handed out stickers to members of the audience after they answered questions about strategies for dealing with anger constructively.
Drorbaugh directed the energy from his emotions into bicycling, eventually organizing a bike ride around the world in 1993 to raise money for cancer research. The bicyclists came up with more than $35,000, he said.
After the “World Ride,” in which Drorbaugh and dozens of companions rode for 344 days through 32 countries on six continents, the speaker said he was searching for a way to help students.
The goal of Go the Extra Mile, Drorbaugh said after his energetic presentation at Our Lady of Snows, is to educate students about anger management. The nonprofit was founded in 1993.
“We’re tired of all the violence we’re seeing in our schools,” he said. “Our youth are making bad choices. Go the Extra Mile is a way of helping them make the healthy choices we know they can make.”
Given the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and increased violence in schools across the nation, Drorbaugh said he has been working to attract sponsors and donations to the Go the Extra Mile program to get the program’s message out.
Drorbaugh said he gives about 100 presentations a year. Those presentations include an energetic Drorbaugh who races around the auditorium, asks youngsters to share their thoughts and feelings and uses videos to enhance the program.
“We’re all looking for inspiration,” said Drorbaugh, who said each program is customized for each school. “We’re all looking to make positive change.”
For more information about Go the Extra Mile, go online to www.gotheextramile.org.
Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.