Chris Herren delivered impactful message supporting healthy, substance-free choices to over 4,000 area students

Chris Herren was an All-American basketball star, broke scoring records and realized his lifelong dream of playing in the NBA before losing his career and almost his family to the disease of addiction. Alcohol and drug-free since 2008, Chris has spoken to over one million students nationwide, including 4,000+ students in Port Washington, Grafton, Cedarburg, and University School last December 1 and 2.

“Chris was everything we expected, and more,” said Tom “Mel” Stanton, Executive Director of Mel’s Charities. “They were two of the most impactful days in the history of our organization and that is saying a lot!  We are grateful he spoke at four local schools as well as a community event in Grafton. We’d like to thank Bank Five Nine, Ozaukee County Department of Health Services as well as the Debbie Kobiske and Tyler Buczek families for supporting Chris’s visit to Ozaukee County.”

Thad Gabrielse, principal of Port Washington High School, said, “This was the most impactful presentation that we have participated in with our students, and we have already witnessed the positive impact Chris has made. Thank you, Chris…and thank you Mel’s Charities for making it happen.”

Patrick Tevlin, chief advancement officer of University School of Milwaukee, added, “Chris made a huge impact on our 8th and 9th graders! Many thanks to you. We may have saved a life today.”

Principal Scott Mantei of Grafton High School commented, “I truly believe that his words will make a difference in the lives our students and families. This assembly won’t soon be forgotten. We appreciate the support of Mel’s Charities to make this happen.”

Herren’s presentation inspired several unsolicited comments from students as well. Here is a small sampling: “When you said you wanted one kid to walk out of the room and realize they didn’t want to be that person—that one kid was me. I realized I don’t want to go down that dark path.”  Another wrote: “I just wanted to say that your speech was extremely motivating and thank you. I don’t have a dad because of drugs, and I found your presentation very helpful.”

This comment came from an adult attending the public presentation: “Chris’ story was very moving and really touched many of my friends…as our close friend lost a brother to an overdose earlier this year. Thank you for getting Chris to Ozaukee County!”

Liza Drake, Director of Human Services for Ozaukee County, was also instrumental in bringing Chris Herren here, as well as providing addiction counselors at the presentations. Drake commented, “Chris Herren’s ability to connect with people and discuss a topic many are not comfortable with was impressive. He is relatable and was honest about the impact addiction has on a person, families, and communities. I hope these conversations are just the start and we as a community will continue to have them.”

“Based on the positive response to Chris’ message and the ongoing need to hear it, we’re planning to bring him back to impact more people in our area,” said Tom Stanton. “Mel’s Charities and Herren Talks have a similar mission of impacting lives one day at time. It just makes so much sense on so many levels.”

In 2011, Chris grew his vision of support to others when he founded the nonprofit Herren Project. Through the organization, Chris and his team empower schools and communities to make healthy choices, while guiding families through recovery. In 2018, Chris also founded Herren Wellness, a residential health and wellness program that helps guests lead healthy, substance-free lives.

For more information about Chris Herren’s public presentation and his mission, visit