Dak Prescott’s Meal for the Minds message: Faith. Fight. Finish

Dak Prescott’s Meal for the Minds message: Faith. Fight. Finish

 

By DIANE XAVIER
The Dallas Examiner

 

Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott lives by three words: faith, fight and finish.

He uses the mantra in hopes of being an inspiration on and off the field – from trying to lead his team to the Super Bowl to becoming a mental health advocate. As an advocate, Prescott said he hopes to inspire people to break the silence, fight the stigma and change minds when it comes to discussing one’s mental health after going through his own struggles.

Highlighting this month as Mental Health Awareness Month, Prescott served as the keynote speaker at the 13th annual Meal for the Minds Luncheon, presented by Metrocare, Dallas County’s largest provider of mental health and developmental disability services.

The luncheon, which sold-out of tickets and sponsorships, benefitted the organization’s many mental health wellness services. It took place on May 10 at the Hilton Anatole Grand Ballroom and was moderated by NBC 5’s Laura Harris.

During the luncheon, Prescott opened up about his own mental health challenges after the suicide of his brother, Jace, who taught him how to throw a football. He discussed how he dealt with his brother’s suicide and how it affected him.

“I will never forget it,” Prescott said. “At 8:30 in the morning, my dad gave me the news about my brother, and I was obviously devastated. My brother, Jace, is one of my biggest heroes in my life. You talk about an athlete; you talk about the athlete in him. I can’t compare to who my brother was. He was the one that always pushed me, always made me be my best, and so as I tried to get out of myself that day 30 minutes or so after my father gave me the news, I ran and wrote on a piece of paper, ‘A life taken to save millions.’”

Afterward, he told himself that he needs to use his platform to help others.

“And so from there, I said I will do everything that I can to move forward and to allow and to help people who understand that it is okay to ask for help, and it is okay to not be okay and that your life matters,” he said. “I am so blessed just to be in this position and to be here with you, to Metrocare and to share my brother’s story, but more importantly to share this time with people who want to challenge and change the world in suicide and end the stigma with mental health as well as advocacy as well.”

Recently, Prescott initiated the Ask 4 Help campaign to spread the message to every person struggling with mental illness that their life matters and that they are not alone.

He also launched his Faith, Fight, Finish Foundation, which empowers families and communities to find strength through adversity by focusing on three initiatives that include cancer research, mental health and suicide prevention, and bridging the gap between law enforcement and the communities that they serve.

The foundation also honors Prescott’s mother, Peggy Prescott, who died after she lost her battle to colon cancer in 2013, as well as his brother Jace, who died after he lost his battle to depression and anxiety in April 2020.

Prescott admitted that he suffered from anxiety and depression after losing his mother and brother and also having to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. He said during the lockdown, he felt like he was living in a box despite being in a big, beautiful house on seven or eight acres of land.

“All I can think about is, ‘If I feel this way, then how do others feel?’” he questioned. “That is ultimately what pushed, led and ultimately gave me the empathy to be able to do this and to be able to share and to experience and to be able to understand what others are going through. We have our youth, and we have people dealing with this and if we can give them the tools or resources to help them out and figure out what that is, that is great.”

Furthermore, Prescott had suffered a serious ankle injury in week five of the 2020 NFL season that saw him sidelined the rest of that season.

After having surgery and recovering, he came back and finished the season by leading the Cowboys to a 12-5 record and a playoff appearance before losing in the first round of the playoffs on Jan. 16.

He looks to finish the 2022 NFL season stronger by leading his team deeper into the playoffs and into the Super Bowl. He said he is motivated by the three words of encouragement his mother instilled in him: faith, fight, finish.

“Obviously, my playing career had its challenges, but it had its blessing more than anything else,” Prescott said. “I am blessed with an amazing platform to be able to speak and tell my story, to care and help and inspire others, so that’s much more important than overlooking any of the challenges and dealing with obstacles that get in my way. I know that all my dreams of being the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys and playing in the NFL. It wasn’t until I got here and played that I realized I got here to this position to share my story and to assist people and help people as well so that is what is most exciting, and I am thankful for it and for this team.”

Harris and Prescott talked about how life is not always how it appears to be on television, even for a famous NFL quarterback. Though most people only show highlights of their life on social media, Prescott said that no one’s life is immune from lows, moments of depression and anxiety and/or other mental health issues – including his.

“So, it is important for me to use my platform and tell everybody that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are at, or what your situation is or where you are at the totem pole,” he said everyone has to overcome obstacles in life.

He went on to explain how he is able to find strength when faced with adversity.

“I have become a better person in every situation, giving everything that I have to God and have said ‘I have everything that I have and can control, and you do the rest,’” Prescott said. “Dealing with every situation, being able to pick myself up in those adverse moments and move forward and say, ‘I found a purpose through that adversity.’ So the next time any adversity or obstacle came, I already experienced how to overcome it. To have all the adversities I have had all my life, there is nothing in this world that comes to me that I don’t face and say, ‘That’s not too big for me to overcome.’

“I can overcome that because the God that I serve, because of the family that I have, the friends, the support system and because I am vulnerable, genuine, I feel like others can do that and be that way for me and because of that. I feel loved and I receive love,” he said. He added that he doesn’t always have to be able to figure things out immediately, he just has to keep going.

Prescott, who majored in psychology, said whether it is the fear not obtaining a dream, the anxiety of trying to be a certain size or depression from seeing someone else achieve a certain goal first, people should not compare themselves to others.

“Compare yourself to yourself,” Prescott emphasized. “… And all three people are you; your ideal self, your real self and your failed self.”

He advised that people should treat themselves as the picture of what they want to be, see themselves for who they actually are and what they don’t want to be, and chase their ideals selves or the version of themselves that they always wanted to be.

Prescott realized the temptation to want to be like a high-profile figure … “be like Dak Prescott … like Ezekiel Elliott … like Lebron James or Elon Musk – but people should be like their own best person.

He then advised people to take a look at their “failed self” and what needs to be done to overcome those obstacles. He said to share their goals and ambitions with family, friends and others close to them.

“That’s when you have to double up and receive love, give love …” he stated, adding that as they offer you support, advise and sympathy, you gain strength and learn empathy. And from there, “you learn some empathy and you can help somebody else deal with what you are not dealing with.”

John Burruss, Metrocare Services CEO, said having a speaker like Dak Prescott is significant and encourages others to not be silent when it comes to dealing with mental health.

“Silence around this issue can be catastrophic, can be deadly,” Burruss said. “Silence around mental health is something we have to take on now. We have to end it. At Metrocare, we believe in service, to step up and speak up. When people overcome the stigma, when they realize that I need help, they need it today. They don’t need it six months from now, they don’t need it five weeks from now and the purpose for that is to be there for people when they need us.”

Prescott closed the luncheon with a call to action.

“My call to you is continue to be that, to dive into that more, and figure out more ways how you can be better or how you can create the tools to really ask the questions and give somebody a smile throughout the day that you don’t know because who knows what they are actually dealing with,” he said. “Remember, you are a fruit tree. Take care of your tree, so that your fruit can be full and be plentiful for your neighbors and others around you and we can, and we will end the stigma, and we will break the silence and we will end suicide if we continue to do it and double down together.”

 

 

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