Bullied Teen Turns Philanthropist
A sixteen year old takes a message of hate and raises thousands for charity.
Bullying in our schools is nothing new and with the internet, cyberbullying is only the latest means of bullying amongst classmates. But whether it's in person or done online, bullying still hurts.
Dannie McMillan (Dee) is a sixteen year old high school student from Texas, who was being bullied because of her size. Someone had taken to posting a picture of her online with a superimposed whale covering her heard calling her a "Fat Whale".
Understandably, Dee was upset. She said that before she knew what had happened people were laughing at her and talking behind her back. Once she found out about the online post, Dee ran home, locked herself in her room, and cried for hours. Making matters worse she watched as more and more people began seeing the post.
But just as the internet can be used to tear people down, it also holds the potential to bring people up.
Dee had made a personal connection through Facebook with a model named Laura Lee (shown in the black dress below). Lee had become a role model to Dee and was someone that Dee sought out the support of when the bullying began.
As Dee was telling of her experience she shared that while part of her just wanted to keep crying another part of her wanted to prove to her bullies that they couldn't phase her. With some encouragement from Lee, her friends, and her sister, Dee decided to go back to school wearing a shirt with a whale on it.
But she took it one step further. She began raising money to save whales by selling the shirts and with a gofundme page. Thus instead of breaking her down as her bullies tried to do, they had actually empowered and strengthened her.
In less than a month, between the two campaigns, Dee exceeded her goal of raising $3000 by approximately $10,000. She has built up her confidence and is making a difference. But the difference she is making is more than the impact of the funds she's helped to raise. She is also an inspiration to others being bullied. Dee is a role model for others, in much the way that Laura Lee has been to her.
Dee's advice for others facing similar situations is to find support in your family and friends. In her own words, "This project means so much to me because while I can help make a difference in the oceans I can also set an example for other victims of bullying. I can take someone's hate and use it to spread love. Overcoming things like this is not easy but people need to know that it is possible and they have support."