- Associated Press - Friday, December 23, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - An Indianapolis Colts cheerleader has met with and forgiven a Russiaville teenager who used a racial slur to describe her in a photo he posted on social media.

The teenager posted a photo of him, another teen and two Colts cheerleaders at an event at Western High School to celebrate the school’s participation in a blood donation program, the Indianapolis Star (https://indy.st/2iltief ) reported. He included a racial slur in the caption.

A screen shot of the Snapchat photo was posted on Facebook and went viral, and the story drew international attention. The student, who received physical threats, later posted an apology on his Instagram account, which has since been deleted. However, the student did not apologize directly to the cheerleader.

The cheerleader, Leanna, said she was concerned after having a conversation with Western High School Principal Rick Davis, who said the student was not handling the situation well.

Davis got the cheerleader and student together to meet face to face.

The student and his mother greeted the cheerleader, who was accompanied by her coach, with flowers and a hug.

“I extended my hand to shake, and he was like, ‘Come on, bring it in, bring it in.’ It was a good ice breaker,” Leanna said.

She said while the teen was uncomfortable at first he immediately apologized and referred to himself as a “dumb kid that messed up.” She described their meeting as “comforting and helpful” for both her and the teen.

Leanna later tweeted a photo Wednesday showing her next to the 17-year-old at the Colts complex.

“I hope that people look at themselves and step back and realize everybody makes mistakes,” Leanna said.

According to the cheerleader, Davis and the Colts organization are planning to create an educational program from the experience. Leanna said she plans to be heavily involved in the program.

Colts spokesman Avis Roper said the cheerleader wishes to be identified only by her first name, “probably just for security reasons.”

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, https://www.indystar.com


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