Ocala, Florida — The Jacked Up For A Cause Anti-Bullying rally turned up a full parking lot at The Mojo Grill, 2015 SW 17th St, Ocala, on Sunday May 18, 2014. The event followed the Jacked Up For A Cause calendar photo shoot.
Those that didn’t know about the rally, were drawn in by the site of more than 30 “jacked up” trucks parked out front of Mojo’s.
Mario Fulgium, with Mario’s Mobile Auto Repair, whom also sponsors a few of the trucks that were present said, “I am in full support of anti-bullying, anything to support the community.” Adding, “I owe my success to the community, I have built my business based upon honesty and the community recognizes that. Word of mouth is my only advertising….and most of my business comes from the Facebook page ‘Ocala’s Word of Mouth.’ The community gives me business and I am certainly going to return the favor.”
Residents of all ages came out to join the festivities.
While Tiffany Lambert-Rabb was having her face painted she said, “Every time I come to Ocala I always stop at Mojo’s to eat. The fact that there just happened to be a charity event, was an added bonus. I am more than happy to donate in support of anti-bullying… and I will never outgrow getting my face painted, I love it.”
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Jessica Dauss, owner of Face & Body Painting, said that she was donating her profits for the day to Jacked Up For A Cause.
Also at the rally, was Sheila Arnett, wife of County Commissioner Earl Arnett. Mrs. Arnett said she came out to show support for anti-bullying awareness. She said she fully supports the cause and feels bullying is a big problem in today’s society that needs to be addressed.
Many of the people in attendance were there to show support for Danny Pedalino, including Pedalino’s attorney, Bo Samargya of Bo Samargya, LLC.
Danny Pedalino is the father of 9-year-old Bridget Pedalino, the Hammett Bowen Elementary student whom has recently experienced a great deal of bullying.
Pedalino was arrested on April 9, 2014, for allegedly threatening students at Hammett Bowen Elementary for bullying his daughter. According to Pedalino, his encounter with the children at Hammett Bowen was incorrectly described in the arrest affidavit.
Pedalino was charged with four counts of Assault.
Pedalino said, “To make matters worse is the fact that one of the boys bullying my daughter is the son of a sheriff’s deputy. You would think that the deputy would teach his kid better manners.”
“Danny is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and as our investigation reveals more information, it is becoming abundantly clear that there was no violation of law,” said Samargya. “Even on the state’s best day of taking the statements that were said, they are not considered assault under the law. It is what they call a ‘conditioned assault,’ nobody said anything was going to take place at that point in time.”
He went on to say, “There was no imminent threat, and normally the children’s conduct after the fact would not be relevant; however, based on the continued bullying and harassment since Pedalino’s arrest, the children involved clearly are not in imminent fear. If the state refuses to drop the charges, we will take it further.”
Jacked Up For A Cause Founders, John and Ruth Sherman, said when they heard Pedalino’s story, they realized that they had something in common. Mrs. Sherman said they then became Facebook friends and both are advocates for anti-bullying.
Mrs. Sherman said her son, Koltyn Sherman, 18, was severely bullied for two years while he attended Dunnellon High School. She said she reported the bullying to the school several times, as well as reported it to the deputy that was stationed at the school at that time. She said the principal at that time, Michelle Lewis, ignored the situation.
Koltyn was 16-years-old at the time he was being bullied.
Koltyn said that one time during shop class, the kids that were bullying him tried to stick his hand into a saw blade while it was spinning. He said they would also bring lighters to school and burn him with them.
When the information was brought to the attention of Michelle Lewis, she said the burns must have happened at home.
Koltyn said as the bullying continued, Lewis blamed him. He said she told him he just didn’t like school and insinuated he was making everything up.
One afternoon, everything came to a head when The Dean of Discipline confronted the bullies in front of Koltyn. Koltyn said the bullies denied everything.
Ten minutes later, the bullies physically attacked Koltyn. They put him in a headlock and continually took turns punching him in the temple. The attack lasted for several minutes before a teacher arrived in the class and broke up the fight.
Koltyn suffered a ruptured blood vessel in his eye, bruises and swelling to the neck, and multiple bruises to his arms from where he was trying to block the punches.
The principal of the school would not allow Koltyn to call his parents.
According to the police report, Koltyn was assaulted at 1:36 p.m., however, the school did not notify Koltyn’s parents until 2:45 p.m. Mrs. Sherman said, “From the time Koltyn was assaulted until the time my husband and I were notified, the school did not seek medical attention for Koltyn.”
Lewis is no longer the principal at Dunnellon High School, but is the current principal at Liberty Middle School, Ocala, Florida.
Mrs. Sherman said anti-bullying awareness is very important to her, and she not only wants to bring awareness to bullying, but also expose the school board for its failure to act. She wants accountability within the school system.
The rally wrapped up with Pedalino delivering a speech from the bed of a “jacked up” truck owned by the Sherman family.
Pedalino thanked everyone for coming out to support an amazing cause and said it is his goal to change the tolerance and the blind eye turned toward bullying.
At the end of his speech the crowd clapped and cheered, one person yelling, “Way to go Danny…great job.”
If you would like more information about Jacked Up For A Cause or would like information on the upcoming calender, you can call the Sherman’s at 352-465-7473. You can also visit the Jacked Up For A Cause Facebook page.
Below are more photos of the event.