Prom is typically a big deal for high schoolers; a night to dress up, dance, and make lasting memories.
But for Felicity Warburton, her high school prom meant even more than that. It was also an opportunity for her to send her classmates and tormentors a very clear message — “They can’t hurt her anymore.”
A Bullied Teen’s Mother Rallies the Troops for Prom
Diagnosed with dyslexia and Asperger Syndrome (which makes social interactions challenging), 15-year-old Felicity has endured years of merciless taunting and bullying at school. It got so bad in high school that she even contemplated suicide.
Heartbroken for her daughter, Felicity’s mother, Kathryn, wanted to do something to make one pivotal high school experience a positive one.
Knowing her daughter’s love of bikes and all things leather, she decided to turn to her local U.K. biker gang for help. She posted a gutwrenching plea on the Worcester Motorcycle Club’s Facebook page asking for volunteers to escort Felicity to prom.
“I am after a bit of a favour. My daughter currently goes to school Blessed Edward in Worcester but has been bullied from her very first day of primary school all the way through into her last weeks of high school.”
She explained that Felicity has Asperger’s and finds making friends “incredibly difficult.”
Kathryn added: “Felicity has been looking forward to her prom as she feels that this will be the point where she can show them (the bullies) that they can’t hurt her anymore. They have been bullying her so much she has even contemplated suicide in the past year, so I really want her prom to be everything she wants and needs it to be.”
Turns out, the bikers did too.
Not All Angels Have Wings, Some Have Two Wheels & Leather Chaps
Felicity’s parents were hoping for 10 or so bikers. What they got was 30 times that amount. In an incredible outpouring of support, nearly 300 burly bikers showed up to escort Felicity to prom, many of whom had their own stories of cruel tormentors growing up.
“They kept coming batch by batch until there were so many bikers you couldn’t even see Felicity in the middle of them all,” her dad, Rich Morris, told Worcester News.
And while their black leather and chrome may have been in stark contrast with Felicity’s long, sparkling champagne dress, they all shared one thing in common: the unmistakable feeling of belonging.
The 5-mile journey from Felicity’s house to the school ended up taking over 30 minutes thanks to the sheer volume of the procession. And when Felicity and her best friend Emily roared up to prom on a trike? They were met with cheers and applause from their fellow classmates and teachers.
A welcome LONG overdue.
The family was blown away by the support, but Felicity most of all.
“She was abused every day and it crushed her but we felt that after Monday night we could see our lovely, bubbly Felicity really enjoying herself,” Rich said.
“To see that smile break out on her face was very overwhelming. The confidence it brought out in Felicity was amazing,” he added.
How a Group of Bikers Proved the Power Found in Showing Up
Everyone deserves to feel loved and valued. Full stop. Sadly, so many of our teens feel anything but. According to stopbullying.gov, 20% of students ages 12-18 experience bullying nationwide.
Additionally, according to a 2020 SURVEY conducted by the Cyberbullying Research Center, 50% of children aged 9 – 12 are victims of school bullying.
That’s 1 in 2. Let that sink in for a minute.
The ramifications of being a victim of bullying are no joke. It is linked to a number of negative outcomes including impacts on mental health, substance use, and even suicide.
Because the reality is that the messages we receive from people matter.
While one night and a posse of bikers may not be enough to erase years and years of exclusion and relentless bullying, it did provide a profound and potentially life-changing sense of belonging to a young girl who desperately needed it. (And hopefully taught her bullies a thing or two about inclusion, something they clearly know nothing about).
Whether it’s 300 people coming together or just one, we all have the power to show someone they aren’t alone. And we can do it in the simplest way possible — just by showing up.
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