COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ)– The problem of bullying has claimed kids’ lives across the country and in Maryland. Star Ravens player Ray Rice is joining thousands of parents and teens to help stop more tragedies.
Monique Griego explains why Friday night’s rally is especially personal to Rice.
Ray Rice became involved with the cause after hearing about a Howard County teen’s suicide. Her family was there as he spread his message.
Constant bullying on social media sites is what drove Grace McComas, 15, to take her own life this past April.
“To say, ‘I hope you die and go kill yourself’ like they told my sister. You can’t get away from that,” Megan McComas, Grace McComas’ sister, said.
“There was just no escaping it for her,” Cara McComas, Grace McComas’ sister, added.
Upset by what happened to Grace McComas, the Howard County teen’s sisters reached out to her favorite football player.
“You can feel that family’s pain. And after that situation, I felt that pain and thought it was the time to get a voice out there,” Rice said.
Rice is now working with Grace McComas’ family to spread an anti-bullying message.
Friday night, he spoke to several thousand kids and parents at Merriweather Post Pavilion.
“I know they consider me a role model,” Rice said. “If there’s one or two kids in the crowd and I’ve impacted their lives.”
“It’s a first step in a long process because we’re dealing with something new in society,” David McComas, Grace McComas’ father, said.
Rallies like this open up the conversation about bullying. They also bring to light how widespread the problem is.
“I think it’s a bigger problem than it used to be,” Kim Fell, who attended the rally, said.
“A lot of people at my sister’s school are getting hurt,” Riley Fell, who also attended the rally, said.
While Rice uses his celebrity to show kids and teens it’s OK to speak up, Grace McComas’ parents hope their story encourages adults to do their part to stop and to keep another child from dying.
“Take it seriously. Don’t expect them to ignore and think it will go away,” said.
There is still an ongoing criminal investigation into Grace McComas’ death.
Ray Rice says he plans to hold more anti-bullying events in the future.