Thanks for checking in! WE DELIVERED- and BOY, DID WE EVER!
Anthony received 1,981 LETTERS of peer support on 2/17/19!
"When I got my letters I was ecstatic. Reading through them gave me peace and confidence knowing that not everyone in the world was a bully."
FROM ANTHONY'S MOM:
"Anthony has a huge smile on his face and it warms all our hearts knowing there are so many people out there who work so hard to make ONE child’s day!"
Anthony's 1,981 letters of peer support were presented in a surprise event organized and led by Dr. Claudio and Daniela Cerullo (pictured) of TEACH ANTI-BULLYING of PA as proud family members & friends cheered! In a very special surprise, our 11th Friend Mail Recipient "ROBERT" presented the Friend Mail bin to Anthony - and read aloud the letter of support he wrote to him!
PICTURES FROM TEACH ANTI-BULLYING'S TOUCHING EVENT TO HONOR ANTHONY - AND MORE!
THIS VIDEO COMPLIMENTS OF TEACH ANTI-BULLYING!
See how our anti-bullying colleagues honored Anthony with his Friend Mail:
Anthony's Friend Mail included one that has become a special legacy of one middle school Ambassador named Lia from Cornwall, NY:
Lia passed away unexpectedly in her sleep from a congenital heart defect shortly after sending her support to Anthony. He says he will treasure Lia's letter forever and has it framed on his bedroom wall.
Anthony, never forget to #StandStrongStandBrave for Lia.
ANTHONY'S LETTER TO THE NEXT FRIEND MAIL RECIPIENT, XZAVIER:
Anthony's letter is not only a gift of strength to Xzavier, but also to us because it tells us how much our Friend Mail meant to him - and shows us what an UPSTANDER he is!
THIS YOUTUBE INTRODUCTION OF ANTHONY is a good choice for young students!
~ By On-Air Teen Super Ambassador, Brielle Withers:
"I can't live like this anymore, mom" says 14-year-old Philly boy
after 9 years as target of bullying!
Anthony has the "BIGGEST HEART," his mom told us, and would never hurt anyone. He has shown great emotional strength in trying to overcome his bullies over the past 9 years, but now the lifelong trauma is becoming too much for him to bear. In most ways, Anthony is like every other kid, and in some ways, he is very unique. This Pennsylvania 14-year-old loves to play the drums, basketball and pool, and he loves Zombie movies! His teachers call him "the facts kid" because Anthony has interesting facts to share every day, especially about his favorite subject, SCIENCE! He's so smart! And he likes to read and take the time to write thoughtful letters, so his mom knows he will appreciate every letter of support he gets.
Anthony likes to be active. He can be impulsive and sometimes it's hard for him to control his thoughts. As far back as Kindergarten, Anthony's peers tagged him as "different" and would not want to play with him. Instead, they made fun of him for his differences. It started on the bus. Kids would push him under the seat and kick him. They would steal his backpack, throw it out the window, and then tell the bus driver that he did it himself. Anthony did not yet have the verbal ability to speak up for himself in Kindergarten, so he would just take the punishment.
Bullies are entertained by causing other's to be hurt, inside and outside.
Physical, social and verbal bullying continued up through fourth grade. His bullies called this handsome, caring and intelligent boy names meant to hurt like ....
"FOUR-EYES" "STUPID" "UGLY" "CRAZY" "GAY" "RETARDED"
His bullies told their classmates not to play with him and they listened. Anthony was only 9 when he tried to escape the cruelty by an attempt to end his life. Aided by a psychiatric diagnosis, Anthony's parents were able to transfer their son out of that school to a specialized school where, for a few years, he caught a break from the bullying and everything was okay... until he was transferred back to his old school in the 7th grade. His bullies picked up right where they left off greeting him with "the retarded kid is back." Even worse for Anthony, the junior high kids started calling his mother vulgar names because they knew this would upset him the most. Every day at lunch, food was thrown on Anthony. Still, when one of Anthony's bullies tripped and fell on the bus, Anthony's instinct was to reach out and give him a hand, but that boy pushed his help away saying, "I don't want your hands on me." Now in 9th Grade, the bullying has expanded from school into the cyber world of social media and into the community. Here is one snapshot from Snapchat:
The bullies find him at the skatepark and the basketball court in the park, causing him to be afraid to go outside. One had the nerve to knock on his door with an apology and an invitation to come hang out, only to be jumped once he was lured around the corner and out of sight of his house. He limped home, according to his mom, with a black eye and bruised rib. This sabotage happened twice. Both times the police were called, but there was no evidence and the bullies denied it. A few weeks ago, new bus cameras finally caught the bullies throwing batteries at Anthony's head. Anthony's case caught the attention of the Pennsylvania organization, our anti-bullying friends, TEACH ANTI-BULLYING, and its founder, Dr. Claudio Cerullo. They have been working with Anthony's school to improve his safety and they honored Anthony for his big heart and resilience as a survivor of bullying. They also referred Anthony to us for FRIEND MAIL at this critical time when every few day, he battles not to act on his intense feelings of hopelessness.
Traditionally, we only choose Friend Mail Recipients from the 1st-8th Grades, so Anthony will be our first young high school recipient. We just know the letters and drawings of support from younger kids will make him smile and help heal the bullying he endured from classmates since Kindergarten, while the high school writers might bring hope and strength for his future. In a panel of youths that includes past Friend Mail Recipient and Super Ambassador, ROBERT, TEACH Anti-Bullying gave Anthony the chance to speak up about what it feels like to be bullied, and he said,
"I'm being me and they hate me because of that, and I asked them (the bullies), why do you have a problem with me being me when I don't have a problem with you being you?
They just walked away. It's gotten so bad to the point that I can't even go to the park by myself and play basketball because I'm scared that they're gonna be there."
Ambassadors, we've been asked to help make a difference in Anthony's life. Anthony needs to know he is worthy of friends and kindness from his peers! YOU CAN HELP us to overpower his bullies with our army of kindness and tell him to stay strong and that it will get better!