Since 11-year-old Ty Smalley committed suicide in May, his father Kirk Smalley has vowed to fight bullying every chance he gets. “I have a pretty big purpose in life right now,” Kirk Smalley says. “I’m not going to stop. I’ll fight bullying wherever it’s found. Schools. Workplace. I’m not going to quit until bullying does.” The young Smalley killed himself after being suspended by his middle school in Oklahoma for standing up to a bully.

In the two years following Ty’s death, Kirk and his wife have visited almost 500 schools and talked to more than 600,000 people around the world. They’ve been to the White House to meet with President Barack Obama and worked with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. This past month, he gave a powerful presentation to 35 school districts in the Chicago area. The Rolling Meadows Park District arranged for this visit in the wake of a dramatic surge in bullying both in the school hallways and online. Students responded to Kirk’s presentation, saying he reached out to them emotionally and inspired them to make a difference.

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