Family is grateful to Bedford firefighters for supporting student bullied at school

Published: Feb. 5, 2023 at 5:47 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - A fire department in one of our hometowns caught word that bullying was happening in the community and they decided they were going to do something about it. They surprised one teen by eating lunch with him, trying to show him he was not alone.

When Dawn Roberts adopted her son Jackson from China, she didn’t know he had autism.

“I mean, it’s difficult, but I wouldn’t change. He’s taught me a lot about myself. And he’s fantastic, he’s hilarious,” said Roberts.

One of the challenges they face is other kids at school bullying her son.

“He had somebody ask him on the bus, what does dog taste like?” explained Roberts.

Roberts says Jackson struggles to interact with others.

“I know he eats alone, it bothers me, it makes me sad,” added Roberts.

But when the Bedford Fire Department heard about Jackson, they contacted the family and Liberty High School to surprise him by joining him for lunch.

“We decided that we were going to try to go and sit with him and try to help him kind of get through this tough time and let them know that he’s not alone. That he does have people that care for him,” said Bedford Fire Department Assistant Chief Matt Beard.

Usually, firefighters put on their helmets and answer to emergencies. But serving the community is their primary goal in Bedford and that is why they’re standing up against bullying.

“Being a firefighter or a first responder isn’t just about going in the burning building or going to the emergency call,” added Beard. “It’s about serving the community and that was one way that we thought we could kind of give make and try to make a little bit of an impact.”

Teaching everyone that a small act of kindness can make the biggest impact. Roberts said this small act meant a lot to her and her family.

“Especially a kid who doesn’t have that many people that he thinks care about him. But for somebody to show up and do that. He knows… He knows,” said Roberts.

When it comes to bullying Roberts has one message.

“You just don’t know if you’re going to be that last straw that makes somebody hurt themselves,” explained Roberts.