And Xander Rose says he isn’t as scared as he was before the ride.
The Harbourside Elementary School student took the Internet by storm with the story of his torment at the hands of bullies who used racial slurs against him as well as violence, threats of violence and threats of bodily harm with use of a weapon, including one boy who told him he was going to kill him with a gun.
More than 11,000,000 people have viewed the video of his ride and the story made the news cycle in various cities in Canada and the United States.
Out of desperation, Rose’s mother, Katie Laybolt, reached out to child advocacy group Defenders of the Children, who appealed to local motorcycle riders in the area to escort Rose to school and make him a part of their biker family.
“I don’t think he understands how many people 11,000,000 are,” Laybolt said, her voice full of pride. “This really grew to be about more than just him. He has reached the whole world.”
Laybolt said she’s seen many positive changes in her son since the ride.
“He’s more outspoken, definitely more sociable,” the mother of two explained. “He’s out and about more with his friends. He’s not hesitant to walk up the (Whitney) Pier anymore.”
“I come out of my room,” said Rose, as Laybolt nodded in agreement.
Before the ride, Rose would spend most of his days hiding in his room, playing video games as a way to escape the bullying.
Laybolt also said she doesn’t get calls from neighbours telling her Rose is in potential danger.
“I used to get calls saying things like there’s a group of boys coming down after Xander,” she explained. “Once a group followed him home for two blocks and jumped him. They filmed the whole thing. I watched it after with another mother.
“Another time a boy stabbed him with sticks.”
While some of Rose’s former tormenters have stopped picking on him, there are still some who continue to bully him.
“I don’t feel as scared as I used to,” Rose said.
However, he does admit his newfound fame can be bothersome.
“It’s annoying,” he explained, “because I have to do my hair all the time.”
Laybolt laughed, adding: “Yes, Mom is making him do his hair now with all the interviews.”
Overall, Rose is happy that he is able to reach so many other youth who may be dealing with bullying like he did.
“I feel like I can help others,” he said, with just a hint of his former shyness in his voice.
“I can show them they aren’t alone.”