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Students hear powerful message from young social media icon

"I say we change the world."

That's the message Hunter Radenslaben shared with students Tuesday at Grand Island Senior High. All GISH students attended one of two assemblies featuring the voice behind the Twitter account @AthleteNation

Radenslaben, a 2017 Waverly High School graduate and current UNL freshman, shared the story of how @AthleteNation came to be.

His mother, who had battled a number of cancers, died from breast cancer when he was 12. Shortly after she passed away, he found a sticky note she had written, with a simple message.

"Help people."

Radenslaben told GISH students how that changed his thinking. He started the Twitter account and quickly gained thousands of followers, simply by posting positive messages.

"Make a difference in other people's lives by the way you live yours," he said. This was how he witnessed his mother change the world.

"I believe you all have the power to inspire and change the people's lives," he said. 

For him, and for many in the auditorium, social media has provided a voice. It is true, Radenslaben said, there is a lot of negativity on social media.

"I want to change the norm," he said. "I want to benefit other people. Help people."

Radenslaben's message was well received by the GISH students. Many gathered to take photos with him after the talk and share personal stories. "I'll follow you back," he told one student. 

"He has an amazing message," GISH principal Jeff Gilbertson said. "He resonates with these kids because - look at him, he's pretty much still in their shoes." 

Gilbertson contacted Radenslaben in June after learning of his story and ability to inspire. It was a perfect fit with the message GISH staff are wanting students to understand.

"Our students can make a positive change," he said. "We see it all the time. They truly live the mantra of Wear Purple, Be Gold. Hunter is a great inspiration for the impact our students can make on the world."

Radenslaben is studying business and entrepreneurship at UNL this fall. He has started new partnerships with @AthleteNation to grow the reach and share more inspirational stories. He has started relationships with businesses such as Louisville Slugger and Evo Shield. He's talking with Pro Football Focus and Russel Athletics. 

His message for GISH students was much the same as the goal for @AthleteNation:

"None of us want to be average. We want to live life with purpose. So I say we change the world."

 

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