Bryan Stow brings anti-bullying message to Santa Rosa students
With the help of a cane, Bryan Stow walked across the gym floor Friday morning at Herbert Slater Middle School in Santa Rosa, his careful but brisk steps inspiring an explosion of cheers and applause from hundreds of students.
For Stow, 47, the standing ovation reminded him that his mind remains whole even as he continues to struggle with the lifelong disabilities he received during a brutal attack that left him near-dead with severe brain damage outside Dodger Stadium in 2011.
And it tells him that his anti-bullying message is being heard.
“It makes me feel good, it makes me feel whole,” the former paramedic said Friday after giving a presentation at the middle school with his sister Erin Collins.
Stow’s visit is part of a campaign he and his family have been waging against youth bullying and fan violence, which they said is essentially “adult bullying.” For Stow, a former paramedic who worked in the Bay Area, the school visits are his way of continuing to help people.
“I can still work and save lives,” he told the students.
During the presentation, which included photographs and video footage of his four-year recovery in five different hospitals, Stow and Collins sat at a folding table placed in front of an overhead screen. Stow spoke slowly but clearly into a microphone, mixing humor with a sober message that challenged people to stand up for victims of bullying. He talked about the 21 1/2 pills he takes every day, seven days a week, that make his skin turn red and peel and are behind his weight gain; the platoon of caregivers and physical therapists who assist him daily; the deep surgical scars that look like furrows on his head; and the cloudy, slow memory that is a lifelong testament to his brain damage.