Facebook post leads to outpouring of support for bullied student
May 3, 2018
A mother desperate for help for her fifth-grade son, posted a plea to the Roaring Fork Swap page on Facebook Tuesday morning that went viral, prompting hundreds of comments and page shares over the next two days.
Not only was there a big show of support from the Glenwood Springs community, including members of the Glenwood Springs High School Demons football team, but the Denver Broncos' organization and former Bronco offensive lineman Mark Cooper weighed in.
Stormy Vigil, the mother of Glenwood Springs Elementary School fifth-grader Aizek Kemp, wrote a heartfelt plea for help for her son, who she said has dealt with bullying at the elementary school for the last few months. Aizek loves football, especially the Demons' football program, but was being left out of the playground games during recess.
Thanks to the Facebook post, three freshman Glenwood Demons showed up at GSES during lunch Wednesday to eat with Aizek, before going outside for recess to play football with Aizek and other elementary kids.
"It was actually really cool to see the support," Aizek's sister Lexxy McBreeze said. "It took a long time for Aizek to come forward and say anything to us, but we weren't expecting the reaction that the post received.
"Just having those players come over to the school, and the outpouring of support through social media was insane. It was nice to see him have a smile on his face," she said.
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Making Aizek's day were GSHS freshmen players Shane Burr, Trevor Champion and Brady Porter.
Building off of the Facebook post, a group of Glenwood Demon seniors showed up after school on Wednesday to play catch with Aizek, leading to a large interest in continuing to support the young man.
"It seems like there was a lot of kids who had some interest in helping out the young man at the school," Glenwood Springs Assistant Principal Pat Engle said. "We're going to put something together so that some groups will go over during recess and lunch these next few days.
"We're trying to keep this organized for the elementary school," Engle said. "If we get too many kids going over, it could cause a significant disruption in the school, and that's not something that we want."
Engle added that the Glenwood girls soccer captains are in the process of setting up a group to go to the elementary school on certain days to eat lunch with the kids, and play at recess.
With bullying being such a big issue around the country, Vigil said she was overwhelmed with the massive response from right here in the valley, and beyond.
The Broncos sent a photo of the Super Bowl L trophy with the words "We love you!" and #TeamAik, while former Denver Broncos offensive lineman Mark Cooper sent a personal message to Aizek, telling the young man to ignore the bullies, because "those aren't the type of friends that you want."
Prior to Tuesday's Facebook post, Vigil said she had reached out to the school for help with her son, but wasn't getting a response she wanted, so she turned to social media.
The elementary school couldn't talk about the Facebook post directly, but Principal Audrey Hazleton said that the elementary school is always looking to connect their students with positive role models.
"We were able to connect some football players to students right away," Hazleton said. "We had other high school students come over later in the day, too, as well as YouthZone and their PALS program. We're trying to get every kid that is interested in connecting and might be struggling involved. Hopefully, that will feed more partnerships with older students and younger students."
The outpouring of support seems to have sparked an interest in a number of high school kids in the area looking to help out not only Aizek, but other elementary school students as well. In fact, Engle said that the support system doesn't have to just be in school.
"If this is something that is very important to them, they can get involved outside of school," Engle said.
A Toss the Ball, Don't Drop the Ball event will be held at Sayre Park at 1 p.m. on Sunday, where older students will get a chance to connect with younger students outside of the school district. The event was created by some athletes from Roaring Fork High School.