Seeing the ALS ice bucket challenge corrupted by Ohio bullies in order to mortify an autistic 14-year-old boy has so outraged people that TV host Drew Carey and others were able to stop the negative ripple effect of the incident generating an online firewall of do-gooders to help stop the challenge being used for bullying.
The boy’s mother told Fox News in Cleveland how students at Bay High School in the Bay Village School District tricked her special needs son into stripping to his underwear and having a bucket filled with urine, spit, feces and cigarette butts in place of ice, dumped on him from a garage roof as what he was led to believe was his ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
The incident occurred in the Bay Village area of Cleveland, Ohio. The boy’s family (not being named for his protection) released the video with his face blurred, in order to raise awareness and try and apprehend the bullies. The family’s last name is also being withheld to protect the boy’s identity.
“They targeted somebody who just really didn’t understand what was going on,” his mom told Fox news. “He was embarrassed because he did not know what the contents were until afterwards. And then he didn’t want anybody to know.”
The teens used the boy’s own cell phone to video tape the incident and upload the resulting video to Instagram, according to the boy’s mom.
“The bucket challenge is supposed to be raising awareness for this disease and now they’ve turned it into a sick joke,” the boy’s mother told Fox. “I just, I can’t understand why someone would do this, would be this cruel.”
When "The Price Is Right" game show host, Cleveland native Drew Carey read about the incident on Twitter, he promptly offered $10,000 as a reward for information leading to the perpetrators of the abuse.
Following Mr. Carey's lead, Jenny McCarthy and Donnie Wahlberg also offered an additional $10,000 each to the reward, making it $30,000 as of Sunday evening.
My son Quin, 10, has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Aspergers. Like many people considered to be on the Autism spectrum, my son has struggled with reading people’s intentions, which can lead to social difficulties and not realizing when someone is laughing at him and not with him.
Seeing this story takes me back to all the times my son has been tricked into saying or doing embarrassing things he thought would make him “one of the popular kids,” but only made him the joke.
Fortunately, for the boy who was the victim in this case, these teens suffered their own inability to read society at large when it comes to something like a viral do-gooder campaign, like the Ice Bucket Challenge has turned out to be.
The bullies may have thought they could hijack the social media capitol of the fundraising challenge and use it to hurt someone by humiliating them and sharing it with friends.
However, Carey and others were too fast for these teens, whose atrocious deed has made the hunt for unmasking them almost as popular as the original challenge.
The teens responsible for the prank are now being tracked by police, school officials, and a host of offended Ice Bucket Challenge supporters, as well as those seeking Carey’s bounty on them.
Clearly, in their haste to lay waste to this young man’s self-esteem, these bullies failed to recognize a very basic unwritten tenant of online campaigns that go viral: that same audience which unifies for good can quickly mobilize against those who seek to do harm.
Perhaps the next happy thought we can share will be in knowing that, while some bullies seem to have ice water in their veins, the collective effect of warm hearts can still prevail.