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Chester: “People have told me that talk saved their life”

EPIC’s newly-promoted senior programme facilitator Patrick Chester has explained how his public speaking has been cited as potentially life-saving, following a famed online appearance that has generated tens of thousands of views.

Eighteen months into his life with EPIC Global Solutions, Chester has been an impactful presenter across our NCAA education programme – so much so that he will now take a lead role in shaping the development of the delivery which has so far reached more than 55,000 student-athletes in 47 states.

But whilst he is undoubtedly making a daily impact when he travels across the US to engage with the next generation of potential major league sports stars, explaining how gambling could potentially consume them in the same way as it did for him, he continues to receive plaudits for a TEDx talk that he delivered a short while before joining the EPIC ranks that has now been watched by over 40,000 people.

Having been shortlisted from nearly 400 potential presenters at audition, he was selected as one of ten speakers to appear in a round of TEDx talks, explaining how gambling addiction cost him his savings, his profession, and – temporarily – his freedom.

“It was a big moment for me,” he recalls. “I was putting myself out there and I knew that there were going to be people in my past life that were going to see that at some point and were not going to be happy about that, just because that’s how some people are.

“So I knew that going in, not all the feedback was going to be positive, but I would say at least 95% of the feedback in the comments I get on that talk have been amazingly and incredibly positive, and so that’s why I did it.

“I’ve had people struggling with gambling addiction, reach out to me because they’ve watched that talk and people have actually told me that talk saved their life. I don’t say that lightly; people genuinely are getting something out of that talk.”

Chester delivered the talk as part of a round of public speaking engagements that followed his release from prison, having been sentenced for embezzling funds from clients in his landscape gardening company to feed his daily compulsion for gambling when the situation was at its worst.

That public delivery helped to bring him to EPIC’s attention, and after a year and a half of regular speaking commitments across the US (and media attention in both the US and UK) on the company’s behalf, he’s delighted at the progress that he’s seen in that time, both from his and the organisation’s perspective, and excited at what lies ahead.

“It has been an amazing 18 months,” he explained. “The people I get to work with on a daily basis are second to none, and there’s something to be said for doing what you’re passionate about and getting the chance to work with people you enjoy being around.

“To be able to help build this team in a way that I think is going to represent EPIC in the best possible light and to have the ability to work with people like Teresa [Fiore, VP of Partnerships] and Simon [Wootton, Programme Manager, US Sports] is incredible and I’m really looking forward to it.

“I’m excited about the people that we’re bringing in and I feel that what we’re doing at EPIC is working and we’re making a difference out there, so I’m thrilled.”

Patrick will be hitting the road again in the next month as the sports teams at NCAA colleges return for their new semester, and he’s looking forward to further meaningful interactions with the audiences he’ll be addressing, concluding:

“The most impactful moments for me – the ones that make me take time and just take a pause for a minute – are those those moments after a session when people are filing out of a room, and I can just see one or two of the athletes out of the corner of my eye, waiting for people to leave the room so that they could have a word with me, because maybe they’re struggling or maybe a friend or a teammate is struggling.

“They’re always grateful to EPIC for being there and for the fact that we’re showing ourselves in a vulnerable way, because that opens up the conversation for them in a way that gives them a green light to talk about their struggles.

“So when I have those moments again, it will just reinforce what I already believe about the positive impact that we are making. Those are the moments that really get to me and I don’t take those for granted.”

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