HENRICO COUNTY, Va. – A Henrico family who believes their son died as an indirect result of bullying held an event Sunday hoping to stop another tragedy from occurring.
The family organized the event to spread awareness and help young people silenced by bullies.
It has been one month since 16-year-old Vernard Morton drowned in a pool at an East End apartment building where he had gone to meet friends. His family believes his death was the result of bullying.
Vernard's mother, Angie Morton, joined dozens of others to remember her son and to rally support to stop bullying.
“It makes me feel happy,” she said. “It's showing a lot of people do care about Vernard and about bullying."
Children, teens and adults took a pledge and brainstormed ways incorporate anti-bullying programs in schools and community centers to prevent another parent from having to mourn the loss of a child because of cruelty.
The group dubbed the gathering the first ever No Bully Zone Day.
"As a victim of bullying myself when I was younger, this story touched my heart and I felt something should be done," organizer Amanda Shelton said.
The family hopes their message will soon expand far beyond this community.
"We really need to get back to the principal of it takes a village to raise our children, because without everyone's support, without everyone's encouragement, our children will be misguided and lost,” Shelton said. “It is our responsibility to guide them back."
The family hopes their No Bully Zone Day will honor Vernard and those who have lost their lives too young.
Several companies, including Chick-fil-A, helped sponsor the event. Vendors and t-shirt sales also raised money for the initiative.