UFC veteran raising awareness about bullying

NEW PALESTINE — Defeating the naysayers. Beating the odds. Doing what seems impossible. Those are things Chris Lytle is pretty good at.

The former Ultimate Fighting Champion might be retired from mixed martial arts, but he’s become a champion for an even bigger battle.

After his retirement from the octagon, “Lights Out” Lytle became an anti-bullying advocate and seeks to bring his message to area schools.

Last weekend, organizers from the Chris Lytle Foundation and New Pal Moms put together an anti-bullying fundraiser at Sugar Creek Township Fire Station 45, where Lytle was on hand to meet with fans.

The goal was to raise money to purchase hundreds of copies of Lytle’s book, “Lights Out on Bullying,” to be placed in all Southern Hancock County elementary schools. The event included a silent auction, raffle and a reading by Lytle.

“We want the book in schools because that is where the problem is happening and continuing,” Lytle said. “We need to get some of these kids to start standing up for each other rather than just letting kids get picked on.”

If not dealt with properly at a young age, bullying is an issue that can persist into adulthood, he added.

“We don’t call it bullying, but it still happens to older people,” Lytle said. “We want to stop it.”

School district officials have signed off on allowing the anti-bullying book to be placed in local schools, but there isn’t money in the budget to purchase hundreds of copies, event organizers said.

Mel Wicksall of New Palestine helped put the fundraiser together and said having an event that brings awareness to bullying is important for students and the community.

“We want to help in any way we can,” he said.

Amanda Pottle of Greenfield has three children in the Southern Hancock school district. She works with Lytle’s Foundation and said 20 vendors signed up for the anti-bullying fundraiser last weekend.

“It’s been exciting to see so many people want to be a part of this,” Pottle said. “Whenever you find a good cause, good people are going to want to be a part of that cause.”

Pottle said most anyone can relate to the issue of bullying, and it will take a community effort to combat it.

“I’ve been a victim of bullying myself,” she said. “With three kids, I don’t want them in a society where someone is going to make fun of them.”

Lytle is an Indianapolis firefighter and father of four in New Palestine. He said he’s seen firsthand how bullying can impact a life in a negative way.

While he’s given countless speeches against bullying, Lytle said, the message from those can be short-lived. A book is something kids can go back to again and again for guidance, he said.

“We need to get people to maximize their potential, and I think the book can help them do that,” Lytle said. “I know I feel good when I help people, and if they can stand up for people, they will be looked up to, and that will make them feel good.”

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Kristy Deer is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3262 or kdeer@greenfieldreporter.com.