A Quad Cities-area teen is making a trip this week to honor his fight against bullying.
Jacob Stallman from Tipton, Iowa will receive the Spirit of Matthew Award from the Matthew Shepard Foundation in Denver, Colorado this weekend.
Though Jacob Stallman was very young when Matthew died, he says he is inspired by him and is now helping other kids who are bullied.
Jake is a junior at Tipton High School. He is the school's only male cheerleader and he is gay.
But Jake Stallman didn’t always have a lot of spirit, and he was bullied.
“They called Jacob a faggot and that they said they were going to kill him,” said Tania Mcatee, Jake’s mom.
“It was like the knife going into your stomach,” said Jake.
Jake was bullied first for being overweight, then because he was openly gay. He came out to his mom in 7th grade.
“It was kind of scary,” said Jake.
“I told him then, and I continue to tell him now, 'I support you, I'm with you 100%,'” said Mcatee.
Wanting change, Mcatee started Tipton Against Kid’s Being Bullied, helping bullying victims in Tipton and eventually around the country. The group helps kids with information about resources and gives them a place to turn to. They also send cards to victims of bullying.
“It's interesting and scary at the same time because we know that there's kids out there, just in our community, who are suffering that we didn't know before,” said Jake.
After a emailing back and forth with the Matthew Shepard Foundation, Jake was invited to blog for Matthew’s Place. He is the youngest blogger on the site. His blog is called Jake’s Place. He is very open on the blog, sharing his struggle including his thoughts of killing himself three times.
“I don't want people to be like scared but it’s the truth, and the truth is scary sometimes and you just gotta work through it all,” said Jake.
It’s those words, the messages he is sharing, that the Matthew Shepard Foundation believes makes him worthy of the Spirit of Matthew Award.
“I'm speechless. I'm so, like, excited happy,” Jake said.