Kirk and Laura Smalley have spoken to about 600,000 kids, hoping to prevent more deaths like the one that claimed their son.
It was just less than two years ago that the couple lost their 11-year old son, Ty, to suicide after he had suffered years of bullying abuse. For the last 19 months, they have toured the country using their organization, Stand For The Silent, to reach those affected by bullying. The Smalleys are being asked every day to visit schools around the country to educate students, parents, teachers and school administrators about bullying and share their story in the hopes that the abuse will stop.
"We go to the schools and tell them what happened to Ty," Kirk Smalley said. "There are a lot of other stories like Ty's, and we ask that everyone help make it stop. Our main message to the kids is that they are somebody and they can make a difference."
The Smalleys are from Oklahoma but are quickly becoming jet-setters as they share their story with the masses. For the couple, the loss of their son still haunts them, but the impact they are having provides some consolation.
"It's been non-stop, and we haven't asked to go to a single school," Smalley said. "We're going to Australia later this year, and we're booked through November to try and put an end to this. It's not what we'd like to be doing; it's bittersweet. When we receive letters from kids who realize the consequences of their actions or are glad that someone is standing up for them, it's good to know we're making an impact, but we relive that day every day and still haven't healed."
The couple will visit 's auditorium on April 30 for an event titled "Bullying Awareness," which sprang from an idea by PTA President Liz Brewer.
"I wanted to do something to get people talking about bullying," Brewer said. "I felt like no matter how much we talk about it though, our kids may be more impacted by hearing the Smalleys' story. I'm hoping that kids will stand up for kids when they see bullying and parents and teachers will know better when it's happening. Maybe we'll have a society in the future where we don't have this problem."
The event is open to anyone who is interested and will take place at 5:30 p.m. April 30. For more information, call the school at 813-740-4600 or visit standforthesilent.org.