Sean Fuller grabbed the attention of hundreds of elementary students without saying a word.
As he raised his hands the cheers increased, and as he lowered them they went down, all the time the 45-year-old drummer for Florida Georgia Line exuded cool from behind his mirrored shades.
But there was a time when he wasn’t so cool, he told the audience of White Bluff Elementary students. Once he had long curly red hair and acne.
He said he looked like a cross between Strawberry Shortcake and Bozo the Clown.
“At least once a week, I would be dangled over the library wall and all the change shook out of my pockets,” he said. “Don’t be sad, I’m cool right now.”
Fuller brought his message of maintaining hope to a crowd of second- through fifth-grade students at the Richland elementary school Thursday morning, before he went on stage to perform with the band at the Toyota Center.
With the band’s popularity, he’s gotten the chance to live several his dreams, from playing with ZZ Top to the Backstreet Boys.
Fuller said that his “Faith, Goals and Life” motivational events are a chance to give back by telling students what he would have wanted to hear when he was going to school.
“I always hear parents talk about their kid being bullied in school, and it kind of struck home a little bit,” he said. “Why not use this platform that I’ve been given to speak a little bit about it?”
He started his mission about two years ago at his old high school when he was invited there, he said. When he finished, he found the experience rewarding, and since then he’s done about 20 more presentations.
His appearance at Thursday morning was mainly arranged by White Bluffs paraeducator Byron Johnson.
When he heard Fuller was coming to Kennewick, he reached out through Facebook.
“I automatically hit Sean up and said, ‘Hey, you have to come play at our school,’” he said. “There is a big chain of people that he knows that I know.”
While normally geared for middle and high school students, Fuller told the students about integrity and character, pursuing their goals and being positive and nice to each other.
Fuller has some help getting the kids’ attention. In this case, it was a drum kit on loan from Richland’s Ted Brown Music. The rock concert opening makes it more approachable, he said.
“I like to have some fun, and not just be the guy that shows up and stands behind a podium and speaks,” he said.
Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, the duo that leads that band, support Fuller’s mission and he tries to bring it to a school in each of the cities he visits.
“If I’m in town, why not do something like this,” Fuller said. “If it turns one kid’s life around, then that’s the most important thing.”