Speaker and comedian spreads message of hope
Fifty-one year old Mike Sheridan, who was born and raised in the Valley, has recently hit the road to spread his message of inspiration and hope, and has his sights set on the stage as a stand-up comedian.
And in a recent interview with Sheridan, who was visiting the area to spend Christmas with his family, he explained that the rest of his life is being dedicated to doing what is right so he can meet his late wife, Stacey (Weaver) Sheridan, in heaven someday.
The ambitious and energetic Sheridan tells a story of heartache following the death of his wife to breast cancer in 2001, and of how his connections from the Valley and with the news from back home helped to pull him out of what he described as five years of despair.
But it was this period of disparity that gave him a new perspective, and led him on a quest to motivate and bring laughter to others as a motivational speaker and as a stand-up comedian.
Earlier this month, Sheridan traveled to Newtown, Conn. so he could share his own experience with loss to families who were dealing with the tragic shooting that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14. Sheridan traveled to Newtown from New York, where he had spent time arranging visits with Howard Stern, Wendy Williams and Nicole Miller.
A gentleman who had met Sheridan in New York heard him speak, and suggested he travel to Newtown, Conn. Sheridan was swift to oblige, and traveled to Newtown on Dec. 18 - the date of his late wife's birthday.
Sheridan arrived in Newtown wearing a Superman shirt, and did so to show the families that they can get through what it is they were dealing with following the tragedy. He noted that he spent the entire day in Newtown, with a primary purpose of speaking with these families.
"I lost loved ones," said Sheridan, "so I could relate to what they were going through."
Sheridan noted that he talked to several families in Newtown, talked to the media that were there covering the tragedy for many days, and spoke to the pastors at the St. Rose of Lima Church. There were two funerals that day as well.
Sheridan described the quaintness of Newtown, and the emotions of the families there. He talked of Barbara and Jesse, who ran a gas station located near St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church; this was the town's main road.
"They [Barbara and Jesse] were having a hard time dealing with the sudden influx of people coming into the town," said Sheridan. "These people were hurting," he added.
But Sheridan shared his positive thoughts, with many, and tried to get them to understand the brutality of what the town just witnessed.
"This is not God's will," Sheridan told families. "It's just something that happened. It's just life."
Another observation that Sheridan made in Newtown is that he never saw any children while there, that they weren't with the families at the funerals or in the restaurants. "Kids need to be kids," said Sheridan, "they need to see puppies and play. They didn't need to be around all of the grieving and sadness."
Sheridan had also traveled, earlier, to Seaside Heights in New Jersey, the place that everyone thinks of when they think of the Jersey Shore, to speak to families affected by Hurricane Sandy.
But these acts of helping others, and what Sheridan described as "making amends" are a culmination of some difficult times that Sheridan experienced in his own life, and the actions that are helping him to heal as well.
Born in Sayre in 1961 to Maryanne (Alteri) Schettino and the late Joseph Sheridan, Mike Sheridan gained popularity throughout his school years as an offensive and defensive tackle playing for the school's football team. Sheridan moved in with his grandmother, the late Mildred Alteri of South Waverly, when his parents split up; a move he described as one that would enable him to continue attending Sayre High School.
But by tenth grade Sheridan moved back with his mother, who had relocated to Waverly, and immediately transferred to Waverly High School. He joined the football team in Waverly, and also took up wrestling. He also had his first job during that time working for his step-father Jerry Schettino, who worked as a mason and excavator, doing business as Schettino Construction.
Describing himself at that time as being five foot nine inches tall and weighing 185 pounds, Sheridan reflected on those years, and the girlfriends he had along the way.
"I always had the best looking girlfriends," said Sheridan, noting that when he went to Sayre he would date girls from Waverly, and when he went to Waverly he would date girls from Sayre. His philosophy, he noted, is that he would never date a girl from his own school. "It would get too complicated," he added.
But that was until 1978, and his junior year, when he met Stacey Weaver, who had moved from New Jersey with her father Ron and her mother Carol. Her father, he explained, had relocated to manage Ingersoll Rand in Athens.
Sheridan described meeting Weaver on her first day of school, and how within seven days they were dating. The two fell in love, but would soon go their separate ways.
Weaver attended Bucknell University in Lewisburg to study Chemical Engineering. Sheridan considered himself a football star, but wasn't interested in signing on anywhere.
Weaver invited Sheridan to come to Lewisburg, but things weren't working out and they split up - Weaver continuing studies at Bucknell, and Sheridan relocating to Gainesville, Fla. where his father lived.
The two were in contact occasionally after this. Weaver went to work for Merck in Danville, and wanted Sheridan to move back.
Sheridan, on the other hand, was getting ready to manage his own Pick 'n Save store in Florida. He decided to stay where he was.
But this decision, he would find out later, might not have been the right one. A year later Sheridan was ready to leave Florida and reunite with Weaver, but she had become engaged and was expected to marry.
With one last hope for his true love at hand, Sheridan headed north and arrived at a friend of Weaver's just seven days before the wedding. He was too late, and Weaver wed her husband on Dec. 22, 1984.
Not sure what he would do, Sheridan moved back to Fort Lauderdale, relocated again to live near Penn State, and even ended up in Elmira for a time where he would become engaged. But the engagement broke off, so Sheridan once again went to Florida.
It was Friday the 13 in 1989 when the phone rang, and it was Weaver. Although she had married, she told Sheridan that all she could think about was him. She had obtained his phone number from Sheridan's grandmother in South Waverly.
Stacey ended her marriage to reunite with her high school sweetheart, and the true love that they discovered in 1978 prevailed. "She was the love of my life," said Sheridan.
The two shared a beautiful home made of stone, on several acres of land in Perkasie, Pa. They had horses, dogs and cats. Life was everything that Sheridan had always wanted it to be.
But their dreams would soon be cut short. On Memorial Day weekend in 1997, Stacey was diagnosed with Stage III Breast Cancer. Over the next several years there would be a mastectomy, chemotherapy, and an eventual bone marrow transplant. Sheridan described the physical toll that the cancer took on Weaver, and how she worried about what would happen to him if she were to pass.
The two married on June 10, 1997 so that Sheridan could stay in the home and gain any death benefits. "She was dying," said Sheridan, "and she was worried about me." She passed away on Oct. 21, 2001.
One thing that Sheridan's wife told him before she died is that she wanted him to move on when she was gone.
But Sheridan's grief was tremendous, and attempts at dating or gaining a social life weren't working out for him. Soon, though, he found his niche because of his outgoing personality and landed a spot on ESPN's Red Zone Sport's Show. According to Sheridan, he had a 15 minute spot to talk about sports. His on-air name was "Mike the Fan."
Sheridan's social life picked up after that with appearances at games, celebrity clubs, and all of the money and fame that accompanies it. Sheridan even traveled to Myrtle Beach to pursue a prospect for a show with Comcast. But Sheridan had never really resolved his emotions surrounding his wife, and her death, and soon found himself in a downward spiral - falling into a state of depression that would last five years.
Staying at home during this time, Sheridan said he wasn't eating, and wasn't taking care of himself. The only thing, he noted, that kept him going were the newspapers his mother would send him to read from the Valley area, to include The Daily Review.
"Nobody can help you if you don't care about yourself," said Sheridan of those dark times.
His sister intervened, and Sheridan went for rehabilitation and then moved to Lansdale, Pa., where he currently resides. Sheridan described that move as being good for him as there was public transportation, and everything he needed was close by. When he emerged from the depression, and began his life anew, he had a new outlook on life - a new energy.
This past September, Sheridan decided to hit the road with his new energy. Traveling to Atlantic City, New Jersey, New York City, and areas in-between, Sheridan began his venture to provide services as an inspirational speaker, in which he can share his hope and his story; and as a standup comedian that makes light of his maladies. Sheridan is hoping to sign a contract soon for a standup show at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The crowd, he noted, will be upwards of 18,000 for this show.
For his standup comedy routine, Sheridan describes himself as being a combination of Eddie Murphy and Andrew Dice Clay. He noted that its content is for adult audiences.
Sheridan has also been doing motivational speaking for companies since 2002. And although he wasn't doing any speaking when he was battling his depression, he picked it back up when he re-emerged with his new energy.
And he is always looking to get out and inspire. Booking information for Sheridan is available by sending an inquiry to Awesome 1 Productions, LLC, P.O. Box 871, Lansdale, Pa. 19446.