Oakland County teachers get new chance to run 26.2 miles to stop bullying

8 Metro Detroit teachers will travel to Indiana to compete 1 week after NYC marathon is cancelled

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Eight Oakland County teachers who trained for months to run a marathon as a fundraiser for a local anti-bullying group will get their chance to run this weekend.

The teachers had planned to run last weekend's New York City marathon until it was cancelled.   They decided to  travel to New York anyway and spent last weekend volunteering their time helping the victims of Superstorm Sandy.

This Sunday, the Run4Change team will run their 26.2 miles during the Veterans Marathon in Columbia City, Indiana.  

The teachers are running for Defeat The Label, a local nonprofit organization that reaches out to middle school and high school through several different  programs to stop bullying both in and out of the classroom.

Mark Rebtoy, a teacher at Abbott Middle School in West Bloomfield, said he was bullied when he was growing up.

"If you know me now as an adult, I can come off as very confident sometimes and boisterous, but I wasn't always that way," said Rebtoy.

Rebtoy said he was bullied in the fourth and fifth grades and it continued all the way through high school.

"Walking down the hallways, I was the kid that was slapped in the back of the neck," said Rebtoy. "In high school, once again, avid band member.  With that, comes a lot of, you know, derogatory terms.  I was only 5'1", 103 pounds and I was constantly picked on."

Rebtoy said he always runs for a reason, not just to run.

"I like to say "It's fun and I love doing it,"  but in my mind, it's more of an emotional thing. It's a way for me to just release my energy, my thoughts," said Rebtoy.

Katie Kalinski teaches world history and is a cross country coach at Abbott Middle School and she is also running for Defeat The Label.

"Defeat the label came in and asked if we would be willing to run on their behalf.  And I thought, "What, what better group than teachers to stand up for kids who are being bullied,'" said Kalinski.

Kalinski wants to keep everyone from being labeled no matter what they are going through or doing.
"I'm currently going through breast cancer.  I lost my husband to cancer and these, for my own two kids and myself, we're labels that could have, held us back in a very difficult way. By  personally taking responsibility for the labels that we might have attached to ourselves, to work through those, to run through them," said Kalinski.

The group of teachers has trained for the past 20 weeks to run the marathon.

They have raised nearly $11,000 but they have a goal of raising $26,200 -- $1,000 for each mile they will run.   

The money raised will help fund Defeat The Label's in-school programs, student based clubs and other student support.  It will also go to the development of an app the agency wants to create to give children an anonymous way to report bullying.

Defeat The Label lists the following statistics as a reminder of the bullying epidemic:

-- Every 7 minutes a child is bullied
-- 1 in 7 students is either a bully or a victim of bullying
-- Over 50% of all bullying incidents go unreported
-- Bullying intervention by adults is 4%, by peers is 11% and no intervention is 85%
-- 6 out of 10 American teens witness bullying at least once a day
-- 1 out of every 10 students drops out or changes schools because of repeated bullying
-- 71% of students report incidents of bullying as a problem at their school

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