After a group of 5th grade boys noticed a classmate with a learning disability getting teased, they banded together and made him a part of their gang.
The boys noticed James Willmert was being picked on by other kids on the playground and didn’t like it. That’s when Gus Gartzke, Tyler Jones, Landon Kopischke, Jake Burgess and Jack Pemble decided to do something about it. “Why pick on someone,” Jack asks, as Jake finishes his question, “who has special needs?”
James was adopted from an orphanage in Colombia and six years later his adoptive dad was killed in a bicycle accident. He’s not had friends at school and was bullied. The boys decided they would have James’ back at school.
Lunchtime was particularly difficult for James, but now his newfound friends invite him to their table. The also invite him to play football with them and make sure he gets his fair share of catches. And when they found out James didn’t have a video game console, they banded together and with some of their own money they bought him one and delivered it to his home. It was the first time friends from school had ever come over to play with him.
The boys’ kindness was recognized at the end of the school year when Mankato Area Public Schools honored them with its Spirit of Youth Award. As nice as the recognition is, the boys said their kindness wasn’t about reward. “He’s an awesome kid to hang out with,” says Jake.
As for James, having friends looking out for him has been life-changing. “All these guys are the best friends anybody could ask for,” James says in the video. And seeing the friendship they extended to him, I have to agree.
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