A few of the original 68 students who founded the group told the story of five youngsters from around the world who killed themselves after persistent bullying.
When Ariel Hernderson spoke of Ty, Kirk rose and turned to the photo. He whispered something to Ty and tenderly touched the image before turning to face one more crowd in one more city. Henderson introduced him as “Ty’s dad.”
His voice quavering, eyes full, Kirk implored the engrossed audience with a passionate message, “that we all learn respect for others.”
He shared some staggering statistics: Suicide is the second-leading cause of death after car wrecks for young people and every 7 seconds someone is bullied.
He didn’t let anyone off the hook, getting down on a knee to look a child in the eyes as he told him he could be the person who offers a hand.
Kirk taught everyone “Stand for the Silent’s” hand sign _ it’s the same as the American Sign Language symbol for “I love you” _ thumb out, forefinger and pinky raised high.
And finally, in the most assertive voice he could muster, an angry call to action, he said on Father’s Day, a month and seven days after The Day, he made Ty a promise, to stop bullying in the world.
But he went on, “I can’t do that alone. … I’m not even asking you to do it for Ty.”
“You got three kinds of people in your world,” he said. “You got those that wish that things could happen. You’ve got those who make things happen. And you got those who wonder, `What just happened?’
“Which one are you?” he asked.
Reach out to Stand for the Silent at http://www.standforthesilent.com