PARMA, Ohio-- More than 500 people gathered in Parma at the St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral Astrodome for an anti-bullying benefit.
The “Arts and Fashion Gala” was hosted by the Ohio-based nonprofit organization Dare2Care.
They say bullying has become epidemic in the United States with tragic consequences.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third-leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 10 and 24.
And there is a strong link between bullying and many of those deaths.
“Personally I have been bullied and I can tell you it’s no fun at all,” said Devon Chodzin, high school student and scholarship recipient.
More than $45,000 in scholarships were awarded to local high school students, as part of a poetry contest.
First place winner India Pringle said, “I think everyone’s been bullied in some sort of way.”
Dare2Care is dedicated to ending bullying, but especially the brutality to young people who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender.
“There is significantly inequality with how we treat our LGBT community and as a result those students are 6-7 times more likely to be bullied,” said Elizabeth O’Donnell, Dare2Care Vice President.
A sad reminder of that fact was also on display at the event. Large photographs of young people who have committed suicide were displayed around the building.
Scholarship recipient Sarah Matthiesen knew one of the victims, “It’s horrible. It’s no longer taking kids and sticking their heads in a toilet. It's the snide remarks in the hallway and crude messages on Facebook.”
Dare2Care hopes by giving young people a voice and creating a platform to discuss acceptance and inclusion that they can create a better, brighter future free of harassment and pain.
For more information on Dare2Care and their youth leadership development programs, CLICK HERE.