A woman's poem about being bullied in a California school 25 years ago has brought her former classmates to tears. Now, they're creating a scholarship fund in her name and have raised $800 to fly her back to California for a class reunion.
"I got an outpour of calls and messages, people stepping forward that I don't even remember that said 'I know I was one of those that picked on you and I'm so sorry,'" Lynda Frederick said Friday. "It was overwhelming."
Frederick, 42, attended Orange Glen High School in Escondido, a town near San Diego. Her poem, posted several weeks ago on a class Facebook page, talked about a girl who "had love in her heart to share with all but no one wanted it."
She and two brothers grew up in a religious home that barred her from celebrating holidays and school functions, she said. She won't provide many details but said it was a rough childhood that sent her to school hungry enough to beg for food. She sometimes wore the same clothes two or three days in a row.
At school, "they would throw rocks and things at me, they would spit at me," she said.
From her poem: "The little girl who had to walk to school while others rode the bus/ Instead of asking why... you picked on her/ The little girl who had bruises and was dirty/ Instead of asking why ... you picked on her ..."
Kristi Malone remembered Frederick.
"Looking at her being bullied horribly and thinking ... I feel so bad for her," Malone told San Diego TV station KNSD. "But never thinking in my head that I could stand up for her, and not once did anyone back her up."
In 1987, Frederick graduated from school early, moved to Rochester, N.Y. and had three children. She wrote the poem to let old classmates know what had been going on.
Shawn Gordon, 43, of Escondido, said he got tears in his eyes when he thanked her for the anti-bullying message and showed it to his teenage daughters.
He remembered standing by as Frederick was taunted.
"One bully tried to keep tripping her," he said. "I could have said something; never did."
Thanks to the poem, Frederick said she has reconnected with people she now considers friends. Classmates are trying to put together an annual school scholarship in her name and have raised $800 to fly her out to California for the class reunion in July.
That will give her a chance to visit her father's grave, which she has never seen.
Meanwhile, Frederick has been giving advice to her own 14-year-old daughter, who's been bullied.
Her advice: "Tell them: 'Listen, if you don't like what I'm wearing or the way I look ... don't look!"
"We can't fix yesterday but we can try to fix today," Frederick said. "That's my new motto."