Let me start by saying I'm proud! I'm proud I've had the opportunity to watch a shy, bashful little boy who was bullied throughout middle school grow up to be such a great inspirational leader and strong man. I'm proud he has turned a negative time in his life into an opportunity to teach others that bullying another is only showing the insecurities within ourselves.
I've had the pleasure of watching him protect his quarterbacks throughout the years with the same fierce determination that drives him to want to help other children who are being bullied by their peers. If you haven't already figured it out ... I'm talking about Bradley Bozeman. Yes, he has had a lot of success on the football field starting right here in Randolph County at Handley High School, then at the University of Alabama and now as a starter for the Baltimore Ravens, but that's not what this article is about. It's about overcoming the obstacles, working hard and reaching for success.
Along with his beautiful wife, Nikki Hedgesetter Bozeman, who let's be honest, is no slouch in the athletic department herself, having been a key player for the Crimson Tide's women's basketball team, they have taken their successes and turned them into something to help others. Together they have created a platform that will allow them to help numerous other kids who have been bullied learn what they are being bullied for now is only going to make them more beautiful as they grow, that they too can take a negative experience and turn it into a chance to help others.
As bullied children themselves, Bradley and Nikki are able to draw from their own experiences as they spread the desperately needed awareness of the impacts bullying has. They have a unique opportunity and their first cross country, anti-bullying campaign kicked off Feb. 10 in Nikki's home town of Kennasaw, Ga., and then Feb. 12 they came back to Bradley's roots at Handley. From there they plan to speak with children at 18 different schools across the country, spreading awareness of the effects of bullying and helping children to recognize bullying behavior and what they can do to help.
Their campaign will winding down back here in April at Southern Union where finally we "adults" will be able to hear them speak. They are reaching out to schools across all spectrums because bullying occurs in private schools as much as low-income schools, from big cities to small rural communities like ours. Did you know that 49 percent of kids in grades 4-12 reported being bullied, and 25 percent of those kids had reported considering suicide in the past year alone? As a mom myself, that's a scary thought, and I'm grateful there are people like Bradley and Nikki helping to spread awareness, offer support and teach our children what to do if they find themselves or others in a situation where there is bullying occurring. I can't wait to see the impact this couple can make.
We will see them back here in April at SU, but you can follow their journey online at bradandnikkibozeman.com, and until we see them in April, we are going to do what we can to help raise funds for a donation to their foundation by offering to donate everything raised in advertising above cost to The Bradley and Nikki Bozeman Foundation. Now's your chance to advertise to the residents of Randolph County and surrounding areas while supporting an exceptional cause as well. You can also donate directly to the foundation on the website above.
So Bradley and Nikki, we all hope you have safe travels, excellent adventures and are able to reach as many at-risk kids as possible! Can't wait to hear the stories from the road and just maybe if you check The Randolph Leader out that last Wednesday in March, you may just get to read a story or two yourself.