Toronto Good Samaritan inspires others to give back
What began as a brutal example of bullying at its worst has evolved into a charitable campaign bent on ending harassment, a Toronto Good Samaritan said on Wednesday.
Max Sidorov helped raise more than $700,000 for a New York bus monitor who was harassed by several children on their way to school. The video went viral, capturing the attention of millions of viewers on YouTube.
Sidorov launched an online campaign to raise $5,000 and send the woman, 68-year-old Karen Klein, on vacation. More than 32,000 people from around the globe donated to the cause.
On Tuesday, Sidorov handed Klein a cheque for $703,833.
Sidorov says he was the victim of bullying after moving to Canada from Ukraine as a child. He said his heart broke as he watched the video, and he decided he had to do something.
“I think it was halfway through the video. I couldn’t even watch until the end. I couldn’t even finish watching it,” Sidorov told CTV’s Canada AM on Wednesday.
“I felt so sad for her and I felt compelled to do something. I couldn’t believe someone could do that to another person, let alone a nice lady like Karen.”
Sidorov has since launched his own charity, 7 Million Acts of Love, hoping to inspire more people to make acts of kindness.
Some 600 people have already joined the charity’s Facebook page, posting their stories of love and appreciation. An online campaign to raise money to fund counselling for children and a non-profit TV series has raised $1,200.
“After something so bad, it is blossoming into something so good,” Sidorov said.
The video that launched it all shows Klein being taunted and teased by the pre-teens she is monitoring on a school bus from Greece Athena Middle School, near Rochester, in June.
The 10-minute video, captured by one of the students with a cellphone, shows the kids mercilessly making fun of her about her weight and perspiration. They taunt, "Oh my God, your glasses are foggy from your freakin' sweat, you fat a**" and poke her while jeering, "Look at all this flab here."
Klein ignores most of the taunts, but tells them at one point, "Unless you have something nice to say, don't say anything at all." She's told by students aboard the bus to "shut the f*** up."
Eventually, Klein turns her head to the window and begins to cry.
Klein has launched an anti-bullying foundation using $100,000 of the money collected on her behalf. She said she will use the rest of her money to retire and take care of her family.
She is not sure where she would like to go for her vacation, but is considering a tour of Europe. But she said she will never forget the amount of support she received from strangers after incident.
“It would take days to go through it all. I am saving everything,” she said.