Young drivers spread the anti-bullying word at jamboree
BLOOMSBURG - The roar of monster truck engines filled the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds Saturday, bringing with it an important message.
Drivers, both young and old, taking part in the 26th annual A&A Auto Stores 4-Wheel Jamboree Series, wanted to tell people to "Say no to bullying."
Whether the message resonated with the young crowd over the noise of the exhaust will be seen with time.
Chris Dixon, the 16-year-old driver of the pro-mini monster truck Lil' Bully, believes that what he's doing by beginning a dialogue can only help.
"Every time we come to an event we try to go to local schools or somehow get the message out," Dixon said. "We had a radio interview and a TV interview to spread the word of anti-bullying. The truck actually helps the message by having a conversation starter for kids."
The truck, Lil' Bully, was a creation brought about by 10-year-old driver Kaid Jaret Olson-Weston, better known as Kid KJ to monster truck fans. Olson-Weston, who drives Monster Bear, has already seen bullying as a problem in his school
"We came up with the bullying truck because we knew bullying was a really big thing now in schools," Olson-Weston said. "We wanted to make an anti-bullying truck and now Chris drives it and we want it to be well known and help stop bullying in schools."
While school may not be in session now, there were plenty of school-aged children who lined up for autographs after the mid-day show. Dixon has also seen bullying firsthand at his school in Florida, and seen the results of letting others know it's good to talk openly about.
"The way kids are now-a-days is that they talk less about anything at all, especially to their peers," Dixon said. "Whenever I see something, I try to intervene, and if not, tell the teacher so they can get to it.
"We can tell in the way the children act that they get the message. They seem afterward that they're more able to talk about bullying inside their schools."
It's not just the younger drivers who have seen a problem with bullying.
Derick Anson, a former boxer and driver of the monster truck Heavy Hitter, has the slogan "Say no to bullying," on the side of his truck after his own experiences trying to stand up for a fellow student when he was in school.
"I quit school because there was a guy getting picked on by a bully and so I took up for the kid who was being bullied and they suspended me for it. It never changed my outcome in life, but it could have," Anson said.
"This is something I thought about after seeing it on the news about a year and a half ago and it went all through me. It brought back the feelings from years ago and I figured I'd do anything I could do to put that on my truck."
His advice is simple, and the effect so far has been profound.
"Kids who are getting bullied shouldn't be ashamed of it; they need to let people know about it," Anson said. "The friends of the bully also need to let them know it's not cool. There's no reason for it. I guess kids do grow up and if any of them has any sense will feel bad about it later, but some of them never get it.
"There are a lot of adults, now I'm 44 and there are people a lot older than me, that say they were bullied and they appreciate me putting it on my truck."
The 4-wheel jamboree continues through today.