Former Packer to speak on drug abuse
Suicide Prevention Coalition to host Chester Marcol
By Angie Landsverk
The Waupaca County Suicide Prevention Coalition will present “An Evening with Chester Marcol” at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 23, at Waupaca High School’s Performing Arts Center.
Marcol will share his story of substance abuse and attempted suicide.
The former kicker for the Green Bay Packers is the author of “Alive and Kicking: My Journey Through Football, Addiction and Life.”
The program is the fourth consecutive one being sponsored by the coalition.
There are eight to 10 suicides in Waupaca County each year.
The county has had a suicide as young as 8 and as old as 83.
Trisha Taber and Heidi Cuff are the coalition’s co-chairs.
Cuff works at ThedaCare Medical Center-Waupaca, and Taber works in Waupaca County’s Behavioral Health Unit.
The coalition meets monthly and includes high school counselors, pastors, law enforcement, county’s coroner, veterans services officer, health care professionals and community members.
“Our goal is to get more community members to join,” Taber said.
She said goals of the Oct. 23 program are to increase awareness about suicide being a public health concern and to let people know it is OK to ask for help.
“It affects so many,” Taber said.
She said Marcol had substance abuse issues and depression.
A Polish immigrant, he discovered football by accident in 1965 as a high school student in Imlay City, Michigan.
He played for the Green Bay Packers from 1972-1980 and was the 1972 NFC Rookie of the Year.
In 1987, he was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.
Marcol was part of what some consider one of the most famous plays in the franchise’s history.
In 1980, a 32-yard pass from Lynn Dickey to James Lofton helped set up a 34-yard field goal attempt to win the game.
Marcol’s field goal was blocked, and he ended up returning his blocked kick for a touchdown.
That resulted in a 12-6 season-opening win for the Packers over the Chicago Bears.
He later admitted he was “stunned and high on cocaine at the time.”
Marcol’s substance abuse eventually cost him his football career and his family.
He lost his brother and father to suicide and speaks about how his use of alcohol and drugs spiraled into abuse, leading to several suicide attempts.
Marcol said he attempted suicide on Feb. 14, 1986, by drinking a mixture of battery acid, rat poison and vodka.
As a result, he has health issues with his esophagus.
Today, the 67-year-old Marcol works as a certified alcohol and drug abuse counselor for Libertas and speaks at suicide prevention and awareness events.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of suicide in the United State is increasing and recognized as one of the leading causes of death.
The Oct. 23 program follows “Mental Health Awareness Month,” which was in September.
Taber explained why the coalition chose Marcol to be this year’s speaker.
A member of the coalition saw him speak at Fox Valley Technical College.
Due to the local increase in substance abuse, overdoses and suicide attempts and completions, the coalition believed his story is timely.
The coalition received a $2,000 grant from the Waupaca Area Community Foundation to go toward the program’s cost and is receiving other funding sources for it as well.
The program will begin at 6 p.m. with an introduction, statistics and resources.
Marcol will speak at 6:30 p.m.
That will be followed by a time for questions, as well as a book signing.
Copies of his book will be available for $25, with cash or check only.
Marcol will also have 8-by-10 photos available at a cost of $10 for black and white prints and $15 for color prints.
He will sign the books and photos at no cost.
Resources will be available as well.
Taber said the program will be appropriate for teens and up.
“Hopefully, we can get more people to join (the coalition),” she said. “We want those voices, and we can give them support, too.”