WWE and The Creative Coalition spread the be a STAR message before SummerSlam
LOS ANGELES –WWE Superstars, Divas, WWE Executive Vice President of Creative Stephanie McMahon, rocker James Durbin of "American Idol" fame and others brought the be a STAR Alliance’s anti-bullying message to the WWE Universe before SummerSlam! ( MORE WWE IN YOUR CORNER | MORE SUMMERSLAM)
First stop: Los Angeles’ Markham Middle School, where Alberto Del Rio, Mark Henry, McMahon and Durbin joined be a STAR celebrity correspondent Micah Jesse, The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, Ryan Ochoa of "iCarly," Congresswoman Linda Sanchez and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. They spoke to 500 sixth, seventh and eighth graders at a be a STAR rally Friday morning. Markham's student body includes 70 percent Hispanic and 30 percent African-American students. ( PHOTOS)
"It's hard to measure how much of an affect be a STAR has had on the children of the WWE Universe," McMahon stressed. "However, if it's been able to help only one child, then it makes all of the effort worth it."
McMahon encouraged those bullied, "Know that you are not alone. There are many WWE superstars, many celebrities, a lot of successful people who have been victims of bullying. You can overcome it. You can stand up against it.
"Be a STAR is such an incredibly important message for me," McMahon explain. "I have three young girls, and teaching them about bullying, how to stand up against bullying and providing them with all the tools necessary to do just that is incredibly important to me."
A child is bullied every seven minutes, whether it’s cyber, physical or verbal bullying. Through WWE and The Creative Coalition’s campaign, children around the globe are encouraged to "be a STAR: Show Tolerance And Respect."
Mayor Villaraigosa was the first to address the students. "Fists hurt, but so do words," the Mayor stated, and also noted that "being a good student and being a good person is speaking up and speaking out against bullying."
Then, the Superstars took the stage to share their personal stories about being bullied and to stress the importance of ending bullying. ( WATCH VIDEO)
"It's always good for WWE to get out in the community," Mark Henry expressed. "We don't just come in and do a show. We want to be involved." The World's Strongest Man inspired the students by directing them to "achieve your dreams at all costs. Pick something that you love and pour your heart out into it. And don't let anyone deter your goals."
Former WWE Champion Alberto Del Rio also related to the children. "Be proud of being you. You're not alone. Don't be afraid," Del Rio urged before acknowledging a similarity between himself and the student body. "I know I talk different. I know I look different. I'm from a different place. I'm from Mexico." The children cheered, and Del Rio responded to the ovation by addressing the crowd in his native Spanish.
James Durbin of "American Idol" echoed the earlier sentiments of the day by saying, "To me, being a star isn't necessarily about being on TV or being a world champion. It's about being a good person." He then left the stage, and partied with students in the audience.
"This is a great opportunity today to get an important message to kids," Congresswoman Sanchez explained. "Everyone knows about SummerSlam in the California area. We are pleased WWE is here and wants to be supportive."
Second stop: Whittier’s Parnell Park, where WWE and The Creative Coalition continued to spread the important be a STAR message Friday afternoon. ( PHOTOS)
Sin Cara, David Otunga, Natalya, Congresswoman Sanchez, City Manager Jeff Collier, Chief of Police Jeff Piper and actor Trevor Jackson spoke to nearly 400 local campers from the Boys & Girls Club and YMCA at the be a STAR rally. Sanchez opened the rally, declaring that "bullying really is a big problem that we can't ignore," and discussed legislation that could potentially prevent the destructive practice.
She next introduced David Otunga, who recited some eye-opening statistics before eliciting the audience's participation. "Bullying is a very serious problem that affects one in four kids," the Harvard Law graduate told the assembled campers. He revealed some of his own experiences, where he was labeled a "nerd" and "dork" as a young man, before asking how many of the kids had been bullied. Almost everyone raised their hands. Otunga went on to describe that, when he confronted his own bullies, they were surprised they'd hurt his feelings in the first place. "They didn't realize that words have power," Otunga said.
Natalya was the final WWE Diva to take the stage, telling the children that many Superstars and Divas have been victims of bullying, and warned against the dangers of cyberbullying on Twitter. "Let's make this the year that stopped bullying!" she said before imploring the kids to "start over; clean slate."
Jackson was the final guest, imparting some wisdom of his own to the assembled crowd. "Don't let anyone tell you that you're not beautiful, that you're not unique." The "Eureka" actor then performed a rendition of the song "Long Time Coming" and led the kids in the be a STAR Pledge before Police Chief Piper announced the 17 lucky Axxess ticket winners.
"The event went great," Otunga told WWE.com after the proceedings concluded and the trio signed autographs for the excited campers. "The kids were very receptive to the message."
"It's so great to be able to talk to the kids," Natalya agreed. "I interviewed Triple H last night [at the be a STAR red carpet event] and he said, 'A lot of the things we were bullied for are the things that make us stars now, like Sheamus with his red hair, Mark Henry with his size and Otunga because he was so smart. The things we were made fun of when we were younger are what we need to embrace. They're what make us Superstars today.' "
It was Jackson's first be a STAR event, but the ecstatic actor insisted it wouldn't be his last. "I had so much fun. It's amazing," he said. He also offered a prediction of his own as to what would happen at WWE's summer classic in a few days' time. "Triple H has always been my favorite since I was little, so I give [Triple H vs. Lesnar] to Triple H."
Be a STAR is made up of more than 50 alliance partners including Scholastic Inc., YMCA of America, Girl Scouts of America, GLAAD, RAINN and STOMP Out Bullying. For more information, visit beastaralliance.org, the be a STAR Facebook page and on Twitter @beastaralliance. Also, log on to beastaralliance.org to take the official be a STAR pledge and to download a free be a STAR teacher’s aide and be a STAR toolkit to start your own local chapter.