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Globetrotter brings anti-bullying message to Rocky Mount school

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Harlem Globetrotter Ant Atkinson (center) poses with Ryan Suffern (left) and Amber Suffern (right). Harlem Globetrotter Ant Atkinson (center) poses with Ryan Suffern (left) and Amber Suffern (right).
ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. -

A Rocky Mount third grader's plea to Santa to help his bullied sister is still resonating, especially with one local and national celebrity.

Last week, Ryan Suffern's mother posted her son's letter to Santa on the Internet. The letter asked Santa to help stop the bullying that his twin sister was suffering at school.

Ryan's letter, read in part:

"I wanted a (remote control) car and helicopter, but I don't want that anymore. Kids at school are still picking on Amber and it's not fair because she doesn't do anything to them at all. It makes me mad. I prayed that they will stop but God is busy and needs your help. Is it against the rules to give a gift early?"

Wilson native and Harlem Globetrotter Ant Atkinson was touched by Ryan and Amber's story. So much so, the basketball star held an assembly at the twins' school about standing up to bullies.

"The reason I'm here is that bullying is a serious epidemic going all around the world," Atkinson said at Rocky Mount Preparatory School.

For Atkinson, the message he brought to the kids came from the heart because even he had been victimized by a bully

"There was a guy about 6-foot-7 and he wasn't too happy or thrilled that he didn't make the team, so I guess he felt it was right for him to pick on me," Atkinson recalled.

Atkinson's story resonated with Amber.

"He went through the same thing I went through," Amber said.

The Globetrotter's "ABC's of Bullying Prevention" anti-bullying program was designed in coordination with the National Campaign to Stop Violence.

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Steve Sbraccia

Steve is an award-winning reporter for WNCN and former assistant professor. A seasoned professional, Steve is proud to call the Triangle home since 2005 after over two decades in Boston, Mass.  More>>

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