Hobbs Eagle football player Chris Kuykendall was told about the 5-year-old boy’s suffering
A staggering one out of every five students reports bullying, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics data in 2016.
Bullying makes children feel lonely, sad, fearful, and sick.
But one 5-year-old boy was so traumatized by suffering at the hands of bullies he would vomit before going to school.
However, when two 16-year-old high school football players turned up, thing changed.
When Hobbs Eagle football player Chris Kuykendall, from New Mexico, was told about the 5-year-old boy suffering at the hands of bullies, he decided to do something.
The boy was so upset he would throw up before class.
“He didn’t want to go to school when he was at school; he was just miserable. That shouldn’t be happening at all,” said on The Meredith Vieira Show.
But Kuykendall had encountered similar experiences when he was ins school.
“I remembered how I felt when I was getting bullied. It just fired me up,” he said.
“I wanted to change that right then and there. I didn’t want him to go another day, wake up another day, feeling like he didn’t need to go to school.”
One of the significant mistakes children make is staying silent about being bullied, the same error Kuykendall had also once made.
Kuykendall was prompted to put an end to the bullying was when he learned of 13-year-old who had committed suicide because of bullying in his community.
Kuykendall came up with an idea:
He invited the boy, to eat lunch with him.
The goal was the other kids at school see them, and think he was cool to be eating with a footballer.
The plan worked a treat.
Kuykendall learned that the boy “was doing a lot better.”
“He was ready to go to school, playing on the playground. It just opened him up,” he said.
A fellow football player, Brevin Young, was so touched by Kuykendall actions, he decided to join in the effort, as he too had been bullied when he was younger.
“I was bullied as a kid, and I feel like I didn’t have anybody there to lean on,” said Young.
“And just thinking back on how I felt about it, I wanted to make sure now the kid didn’t feel like that.”
Young asserts that bullying today is worse than it has ever been.
He was shocked to hear things like “kindergartners and first-graders … getting their fingers bent back and getting hit and kicked and verbally abused.”
Both Kuykendall and Young set up the buddy group Eagle Buddies, which pairs high school athletes with bullied kids to build their confidence.
The athletes played and ate lunch with the children, with amazing results.
Bullying victim Ryan Chamberlain, whom Kuykendall and Young had helped, said:
“I was getting bullied at school one day, and I was crying in the office, and they came in, and I told them what’s the matter,” Ryan told News West 9.
“It’s just nice to know that you can talk to somebody and that they’ll stop the bullying,” he added.
The Meredith Vieira Show awarded Kuykendall and Young with customized letterman jackets, plus $5,000 from Quiznos for them continue their work.
“They really supported it a lot, so I think they were really on board with it and I’ve had numerous amount of people from different states call and text me about how they can get this started in their school, so it’s definitely been a pretty good experience,” Kuykendall added.
Young’s mom, Legina Gonzales, was deeply touched seeing their actions:
“It’s just amazing to see how kids can help kids and don’t ever underestimate a 16-year-old,” the mom said.
“It’s been so amazing to see the humanity in teenagers, and we just have to look and open the door and bring it. And it’s there.”
“It just shows that anybody can make a difference because it’s not only happening in Hobbs, New Mexico. It’s happening everywhere,” said Kuykendall.