Upstate New York bus monitor Karen Klein garnered the world’s attention this time last year when a YouTube video showing her enduring taunts from middle school students went viral.
Some of the kids — who were not seen in the video — made degrading comments about the longtime school employee’s age and weight, blamed her for her oldest son’s death — he committed suicide a decade earlier — and one of the kids even threatened to stab her with a knife. Because of the insults and taunts, Klein started to cry during the bus ride, but never retaliated even once. The YouTube video prompted around 32,000 people to donate more than $700,000 via Indiegogo toward a vacation for Klein, who went on national television shows to speak out against bullying.
Now a year after the bullying incident that prompted the random act of kindness in the form of $700,000, the now-retired Klein told the Associated Press that she hasn’t changed much. She hasn’t gone on any spending sprees or done any home renovations. Instead she used part of the money donated from the Indiegogo campaign — around $100,000 — to start up the Karen Klein Anti-Bullying Foundation.
She has traveled the country to promote her message of kindness and recently partnered with the Moscow Ballet’s tour of North America to raise awareness of cyberbullying.
As for what she’s doing with the rest of the money, she told the Associated Press: “There’s a lot I wish I could be doing, but I don’t know how to do it. I’m just a regular old lady.”
Klein added that she has met with one of the boys, sent by his parents to apologize to her in person. The other boys sent what she described as less sincere, typed apologies.
When asked if they’ve learned their lesson from the viral bullying video, she wasn’t sure: “I hope they learned a lesson; they probably didn’t. It might have been a big joke to them.”
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