PEQUOT LAKES -- Outwit. Outplay. Outlast.
It's the slogan behind the popular television show, "Survivor," but it is also the reason why best-selling author Dave Pelzer is alive today.
Pelzer told Pequot Lakes sixth- and seventh-graders Tuesday that he survived the severe abuse he suffered at the hands of his alcoholic mother because he was able to think through the situations she put him through and find ways to remain alive. Even if that meant allowing her to beat him, it was a better alternative than her burning his arm over a gas stove.
Pelzer was in the Brainerd lakes area Monday and Tuesday and spoke to sixth- and seventh-grade students in Crosby, Pequot Lakes, and at Washington Middle School in Brainerd. He also spoke to 300 10th through 12th graders at Brainerd High School Tuesday and gave a free keynote presentation to adults Monday night at Tornstrom Auditorium.
Pelzer's visit was sponsored by Brainerd Community Education, Pequot Lakes Community Education, Crow Wing County Attorney's office, Crow Wing County Child Protection Team, St. Joseph's Medical Center Foundation and The Brainerd Dispatch.
Pelzer, 40, was 12 years old and weighed only 68 pounds when his teachers saved him from a childhood of severe emotional and physical abuse in 1973. From ages 12-18, Pelzer lived in foster care and discovered shortly after leaving the foster care system that he was considered to be the third worst case of child abuse in the state of California. He went on to serve in the military during Operation Just Cause, Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He is now an educator, author and a consultant.
His first book, "A Child Called It," and his latest book, "Help Yourself," have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. His other best-selling books include, "The Lost Boy," and "A Man Named Dave."
Pelzer used celebrity impersonations and humor to send a positive message to students that they need to take responsibility for their lives.
"Everyone on this planet has problems," explained Pelzer. "You don't quit on yourself."
This was a return visit for Pelzer, who first came to Brainerd in 1999 and spoke to junior high school students.
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