I was really young, probably nine or ten and I was at my cousin, Diego's, birthday party at his house in Sun City, CA. He lived with my grandparents and his mom and disabled sister, Rebecca. I think it was February and living in Southern California my whole life, I was not accustomed to any kind of weather except sun and the occasional shower. My cousin lived in a typical neighborhood of Riverside County in Sun City, so it was mostly white, lower income area, where there isn't a high value put on education, but there was on your ability to do sports and fight. My family may not have had the same values, but my cousins friends were typical. It was actually a cold day, which, is not something I particularly enjoy now, nor did I then because I liked to be outside unbound by clothing, namely my shirt, and able to play baseball. I guess it was kind of a big birthday for my cousin because there was a petting zoo and a bounce house, which was a burden on my grandfather who was a truck driver, my aunt and grandmother didn't work and my cousin's father wasn't much of a father to speak of. Anyways, the party guests were an assortment of family members, my cousin's neighborhood friends and his sister's friends from her class. They all had fairly severe physical or mental disorders, similar to hers, which are akin to cerebral palsy. So, I was having a ball with a petting zoo and lots of food and sugar and a bounce house, but it just kept getting colder and the skies grew more and more ominous. After probably an hour, the heavens let loose and it started to rain and then hail and it actually snowed, not far above sea level in Southern California, in Ferbruary. I was kind of awestruck and confused and decided, amid the chaos, that I would seek shelter in the bounce house while everyone else scurried for cover in the garage or inside the house. When I got into the bounce house, there was a boy sitting in the corner with down syndrome and not a parent or care taker in sight. He didn't really look distressed or in trouble, so I just kept on bouncing. Right after me, trounced in one Diego's neighborhood friends. There was a swiss ball in the bounce house that I had no use for because it was too big to throw very hard and I knew that it was so that Rebecca could try to balance and stand up. Diego's friend picked it up and immediately threw it toward the corner of the bounce house where Rebecca's friend was sitting and it hit him square in the face. I grew up in the safest city in the United States (Irvine) and had never really seen abuse like that, so I was confused and then upset. I told him that if he did it again, I was going to hit him in the face with the ball because I knew that I was good at throwing things and I thought that was a decent enough threat to make him stop. I looked around and there wasn't really an adult near us, so I couldn't run and get someone to handle this situation and I wasn't going to leave this helpless boy with down syndrome alone with someone that was abusing him. As if to call my bluff, Diego's friend retrieved the ball and again threw it directly into the corner, hitting Rebecca's friend in the face. Overcome with anger and disbelief I charged the bully and the next thing I know my grandmother was pulling me off of him and out of the bounce house by my ankles. I do not know exactly what happened after I charged the bully, but I do know from that day forth I did not and will not stand for bullying. I have seen over the past couple of years how bullying, both online and in school has been a major problem in my community. I have in some way been both a victim of bullying and unwittingly been a bully myself, but I am sure that bullying has to stop.
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