MIAMI- The Be a STAR Alliance made a second stop on Thursday at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Miami, sending a message of tolerance and respect to the students. (PHOTOS)
WWE Superstars David Otunga and The Miz were joined by SmackDown ring announcer Lilian Garcia for the rally, as well as former American Idol contestant James Durbin, North Miami Beach Mayor George Vallejo, Miami-Dade County Commisioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz and T.D., mascot of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. Everyone had one message for the kids: Bullying is unacceptable.
They each shared their own experiences with bullies from their childhood and how they overcame them.
For Otunga, also a Harvard-educated lawyer, his glasses and aptitude in the classroom became a target for bullies. “It bothered me to the point where I wouldn’t raise my hand if I knew the right answer in class,” Otunga said. “And if I did get called on, even if I knew the right answer, I’d intentionally give the wrong one.”
But he eventually told a teacher, who arranged for Otunga and the bullies to meet. “They said they didn’t know they were bullying me,” the former WWE Tag Team Champion said. “They thought they were just having fun at my expense. They didn’t know what effect their words had on me.”
Garcia explained to the kids that they should be proud of how unique they are. “The important thing is to be okay with being different,” she said.
Durbin, who faced bullies while struggling with Tourette’s Syndrome and autism growing up, broke down the true meaning of being a star. “It’s about being a good person, and being a good person to others,” he explained.
The Miz addressed the topic of cyberbullying. He told the students about the negative comments he receives on Twitter and Facebook and gave them advice on how to rise above negativity. Every time you have a negative thought or are going to post a negative tweet ,” the former WWE Champion said. “I Challenge you to do something positive, say something positive. I guarantee you and that person will feel great about themselves.
Then, trying to pass on some of his trademark confidence to the students, The Miz led them in a chant. “We are,” he called out to the crowd. In unison, they responded “AWESOME!”
To close out the event, Otunga and former Miami Dolphin Twan Russell led the kids in the Be a STAR pledge, urging them to show tolerance and respect for each other. Then, several students won tickets to the hottest events in town, the WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and WrestleMania XXVIII.
The rally was the second on Thursday. Earlier, Otunga, Durbin, Rey Mysterio and Alicia Fox spoke to students at Miami’s Hialeah Middle School.
The Be a STAR Alliance is a partnership between WWE and more than 50 organizations, including The Creative Coalition and GLAAD. For more information, visit www.beastaralliance.org, or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.