HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - It's been nearly a month since 16-year-old Vernard Morton drowned in a Henrico pool.
Angie Morton, Vernard's mother, says her son was bullied into that water by a group of other kids. Now, Angie and her family are now joining in on an event this Sunday to spread love and acceptance in Vernard's memory.
"No Bully Zone Day" aims to raise awareness in ending harmful, and even deadly, teasing and emotional abuse.
Vernard's death is the kind of pain that only a parent who's lost a child can understand. Angie's bright, young son is now a precious memory.
"I've been crying every day thinking about him," said Angie.
Angie says Vernard, a tenth grader at Highland Springs High, was a kind, happy and loving young man. She says he was also relentlessly bullied.
"Everybody is a living human being. Everybody just needs to be loved, and not made fun of or talked about... teased," said Angie. "You got to think about what you are doing to other people. You don't know how it will affect others."
On the afternoon of June 15, Vernard met up with some other kids at the 11 North Apartments on Laburnum Avenue. Angie alleges her son was pushed into the deep end of the pool. Vernard hit his head and later died at the hospital.
"My son died because these little boys dared him and forced him into the pool," Angie said.
Amanda Shelton was moved by Vernard's story. Amanda, a victim of bullying herself, reached out to his family and is now organizing the first annual "No Bully Zone Day" this Sunday, in his honor.
"We've received an overwhelming amount of love and support," said Shelton.
The free event will feature a lineup of performances and speakers, with music, games and food. It will be held from 4-6 p.m. in the old Kmart parking lot off Nine Mile Road, intersecting Laburnum Avenue.
Shelton says many Highland Springs High School students are also planning to attend.
"This is for whoever has been bullied... anybody, any age," said Angie.
However, Amanda and Vernard's family are still in need of donations to make the event a success. Organizers still need things like bottled water, ice, and hot dogs. They're raising money online and accepting items, as well. There will also be a special tribute to Vernard.
"We definitely want to make sure we honor Vernard Morton, as well as his family," said Shelton.
If you'd like to help contribute to this event, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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