“To be a good leader, you once had to be a good follower,” said former Packer LeRoy Butler.
On Dec. 3. he spoke at a leadership seminar at the National Society of Leadership and Success in the DUC Alumni room.
Butler provided many pieces of wisdom as he delved into the hardships he experienced growing up and how those molded him into the leader he is today.
As a kid, Butler was in a wheelchair, but that did not stop him from having big dreams. When his mother asked him what he wanted to be, his response was quick.
“Sitting in a wheelchair with braces on my legs for my club feet, I looked up at her and said I’m going to play professional football,” Butler said.
Butler passed on the same pieces of wisdom his mother told him.
“She explained you can do whatever you want,” Butler said. “You just have to live life a certain way. If you put blinders on and don’t let anything get in your way, you can make it.”
It was not until Butler’s sister knocked him out of his wheelchair and his braces broke that he could walk on his own and enter the athletic world.
After playing for Florida State University, the Packers drafted Butler on April 30, 1990, and he went on to become the inventor of the Lambeau leap.
“I made eye contact with Reggie White as he was being tackled,” Butler said. “He threw me a lateral ball, and I started running down the sideline with a huge smile on my face. I knew I wanted to do something to celebrate my touchdown. I made eye contact with this guy in the stands and he sacrificed his beer for me.”
A few years later the Packers won the 1997 Super Bowl.
“Leadership is why I won the Super Bowl,” Butler said. “If you want to win your Super Bowl, find a way to make your dream come true.”
Seminar attendees left with a positive message.
“It’s important not to give up no matter what you’re faced with,” said senior Hillary Schultz.
Schultz attended with senior Katie Wechlo. Both attended because they are part of the society and because they are Packer fans.
“I’m happy that I came,” Wechlo said. “It was about getting over the struggles and hurdles in your life and where you can end up.”
Junior Kyle Kuzynski earned educational credit while at the event but was impacted by one thing in particular.
“When he said that you need be a good follower to be a good leader that gave me a new quote to live by,” Kuzynski said. “I’ve always been more of a follower, but now I want to find a good leader to follow so I can become a good leader myself.”
Butler has been speaking at similar events since he became a Packer and has been focusing on anti-bullying in the last five years.
“I want to make a difference in the community and help find a way for leadership to stop some of the negative things you see in the world,” Butler said. “I want to help people block out the negative stuff with the blinders like I did.”
Butler was bullied for his handicap and learned to ignore his tormenters.
“Seeing so many kids go through what I went through when I was a kid makes me want to become a lawyer,” Butler said. “I’m not going to become a lawyer, but I’m going make sure people know not to let people tell you what you can’t do.”
Butler has been to 22 schools in the last two months and will appear at three more universities in January and February.
Senior publicity chair Jennifer Myers booked the seminar to fulfill the required amount of live broadcasts the society needs to offer their members.
“This is my first live speech,” Myers said. “I searched online and he popped up, and it fit with what we learn about and focus on.”
Myers learned a lot at this seminar.
“I think this was good because people learned how one gains leadership and achieves success,” Myers said. “This experience was good for me. I used to be the shyest person ever, but now I’m more confident and have gotten over my stage fright.”
Junior secretary Cole Monroe gained a lot from the society as well.
“I love overseeing how the chapter is run and being part of a team,” Monroe said. “My leadership skills have also grown.”
That is what Butler wants. He also wants people to get on the right path of leadership.
“Be leaders. Don’t be followers,” Butler said. “If you’re going to follow, follow the right leader,” Butler said.