CHILLICOTHE, Ill. (WMBD) — Turning a terrible situation into a message of kindness.
A video showing a girl with autism, 17-year-old Makenna Batson of Chillicothe, went viral this week.
It speaks volumes when someone can be attacked, then that person uses their story to help people around the country.
That’s exactly what Makenna Batson did.
The video of her being surrounded by a group of people, six juveniles and one adult man, surfaced this week. In the video, a girl is seen slapping Makenna in the head, and a juvenile boy is seen bumping into her with his shoulder. The group is also heard saying hurtful things to Makenna.
Makenna spoke to WMBD Wednesday morning and says the outpouring of support has been incredible.
“I finally feel like I know that I’m not alone. Because I’ve struggled with bullying for awhile now,” Makenna said.
For years, Batson, who has autism, says she’s been bullied.
“Honestly, I thought ‘oh this is just another video on the internet of me.’ I didn’t think people would come and say ‘hey, that’s not okay because I’ve been bullied since freshman year of high school, and I’m going to be a senior. It really does help me know that people are actually looking out for it now more than they did before,” Makenna said.
But the community rallied around her, saying enough is enough.
The graphic video showing her attack lead to a Facebook page. ‘Kindness for Makenna.’ The page now has over 6,000 members. Strangers from around the country offering acts of kindness.
“Today I just got a notification that on July 25th, there’s going to be a softball tournament for her,” said Makenna’s father, Terry Batson.
Terry says he’s so proud of her for standing up to bullying.
“She’s amazing. She’s a very strong person,” Terry said.
Makenna says since this happened, her attackers have received threats. But she wants people to know she doesn’t want anyone else to be bullied.
“I want them to learn a lesson, but not to the point that they’re getting death threats,” Makenna said.
Now her message is very clear.
“Don’t bully, it can lead and has lead to many suicides. I would not want anyone to have to go through what I had to go through or what other people have had to go through,” Makenna said.
Makenna said since her attack, one of her friends shared how she was bullied and thanked her for standing up to bullying.
“I made a difference for not just me, but someone who stopped by actually. She was getting bullied, and she thanked me because now people are watching out for it more. I’m so happy I was able to help brighten someone’s day to show, yes, I made a difference. Because she was one of my friends,” Makenna said.
Makenna says she’s just happy she can use her situation to help others.
Chillicothe Police Chief Scott Mettille says his officers have arrested seven people involved in Makenna’s attack.
Mettille says the case is now closed. Four female juveniles and two males were charged with aggravated battery and mob action. 18-year-old Michael Lloyd was arrested for the same.
If you’d like to stay involved and stand up to bullying, you can join the Facebook group here.
Makenna’s favorite animal is an owl, and her favorite color is purple.
Makenna has received love from around the world.
There’s been a GoFundMe created for Makenna, over $1,000 has been raised. Her dad says it’ll be used towards college.