A year-and-a-half ago Anna Hershiser and her family lost their 14-year-old son Caleb to a suicide. While she may never find all of the answers, she is making it her duty to keep it from happening again.
About 100 people gathered Saturday to remember Caleb and participate in Hershiser’s anti-bullying campaign. The group met for a photo at Norwalk High School, then traveled to a billboard on Ohio 61 south near Graham Road for another photo.
At NHS the group formed a heart for the picture taken by a drone. At the billboard they gathered and pointed out the sign’s simple message — “Bullying has to stop” — next to a photo of Caleb.
“We’re here today to make a stand against bullying,” Hershiser said Saturday. “Eighteen months ago my 14-year-old Caleb took his life due to being bullied and we just want help to spread awareness and let the kids know they can stand up and speak out and there are so many people who love them and care for them and support them and are here for them.”
Hershiser said she didn’t know what to expect going in.
“From the turnout we’ve got here today I am beyond overwhelmed,” she said. “My heart is completely full of joy. I was only anticipating 20 or 30 (people). I was hoiping for much more and that is exactly what we got. I am speechless.
“Words can’t express what it means to me. I am speechless. I am absolutely speechless. I feel the love. I feel the support. It absolutely means the world to me. I could never repay these people for supporting us and me. It takes the pain I feel on a daily basis more bearable to deal with because I know how much support we have and how loved we are by community members and complete strangers — people as far away as Cleveland.”
Stephon J. Davis, director of media operations from Serlo Media in Cleveland, was filming at the event.
Davis produced a documentary called the “Tale of Two Mothers,” which featured Anna and Caleb and another mother who lost her son to bullying.
“They both were bullied and we wanted to make sure we had a tribute in this movie to honor the both of them who died so tragically,” Davis said.
The film was screened in Euclid and a discussion panel followed to talk about the issue.
“We are really excited to reach out to as many people as possible to prevent suicide and to prevent bullying,” he said.
Davis said the documentary should be available soon in this area.
Hershiser talked about the billboard that went up on Ohio 61 shortly after her son’s death.
How long will it stay up? “As long as I can afford to,” Hershiser said.
Joe Centers is Reflector managing editor. He can be reached at [email protected].