NEW PALESTINE — Dalton Rosemeyer was halfway through his school district’s third-annual Run, Walk and Roll Against Bullying event Saturday when he paused to reflect on the importance of supporting the cause.
Having been bullied himself as a youngster, the New Palestine High School sophomore — who walked arm-in-arm with his girlfriend, Reese Hunt, a fellow sophomore — said it’s important to bring awareness to an issue that affects so many of their friends.
“Bullying is a pretty bad thing when it happens,” Rosemeyer said. “Knowing what it feels like makes me feel for the kids who are still getting bullied.”
Raising awareness of bullying — and taking a pledge to try to stop it — is what the Walk, Run or Roll Against Bullying event is all about. Nearly 400 students, staff, parents and community members took part in the event last weekend, organizers said.
They had the option to either walk, run or roll (anything with wheels was welcome) one mile at the high school or go 4.5 miles on a longer course from Doe Creek Middle School through county roads.
“I wanted to take part in this because I thought it would be a good thing to do, just support the people getting bullied,” Hunt said.
Doe Creek Middle School dean of students Craig Moore said the event was a success.
Moore worked with district administrators Miles Hercamp, assistant principal at the high school, and Katy Eastes, principal at New Palestine Elementary School to put the annual event together.
In 2013, state legislators passed a law requiring all school districts to develop a bullying awareness program to educate students and staff on the issue.
District officials said the walk is just one of the ways they meet those requirements.
Moore noted there were just as many students taking part in the event as adults, which he hopes suggests children are getting the message that bullying isn’t cool.
“This has been a very well-supported event,” Moore said. “We want to just keep growing it and growing it every year.”
Just like she had done for the previous two events, Peggy Fuller, a librarian at the high school, brought her husband, Rick Fuller, to take part. They passed out cups of water to the walkers, runners and cyclists at the halfway point on the longer course.
“It’s a great cause, and I like to show support for the kids,” Peggy Fuller said.
She said she sees many students dealing with the effects of being bullied, even as society becomes more aware of the serious consequences that can accompany targeting others.
The Fullers were like many taking part in the event who hoped an annual event could have a positive impact.
“I think the good turnout is all a very good reflection on this community,” Rick Fuller said.