A new nonprofit organization held a fundraiser tonight in an effort to introduce the organization and raise awareness about bullying after a local teen’s suicide.
Stand Against Bullying in Tennessee (SABTN) is a nonprofit organization “promoting awareness of bullying, in hopes that we should never lose another child to suicide.” The group was created after 14-year-old Sherokee Harriman stabbed herself to death in front of her bullies. After going to counseling, where family members say she was too ashamed to reveal the bullying she was enduring, Sherokee took her life in September 2015. The tragedy made local news (See HERE).
Sherokee’s family, friends, and neighbors were on hand to sing karaoke, bid on donated items in a silent auction, and to hear a presentation by Sherokee’s mother, Heather Edwards. Edwards appealed to other teens to stop bullying. “I lost a daughter due to bullying,” Edwards explained, wiping tears from her eyes. “It’s not something you want to go through. You’ve got to think about other people’s feelings … get to know that person … avoid what I’m going through.” Bullying, she warns, “mentally and emotionally destroys that person.”
“SABTN’s goals are to bring awareness about bullying, support the kids in trouble, create harsher penalties for those who bully, and – hopefully – save a life” Sherokee’s father, Mike Edwards, explains. “The law against in Tennessee is so vague. It needs to be more specific.” Tonight’s fundraiser was a grassroots effort to raise funds to get the organization “up and running.”
The event was held at La Siesta Mexican Restaurant, 2424 S Church Street, in Murfreesboro. Sherokee was a student of La Vergne High School, and resided in nearby La Vergne. 3 C Events and Entertainment provided balloon displays and karaoke singing. The music ranged from classic country to progressive rock. Auction items included gift certificates, artwork, tools, and gift baskets, including a gift basket valued at $1,000. The displays were in pink, Sherokee’s favorite color.
C.J. Jatala, owner and manager of 3 C Events and Entertainment, has a specific reason for starting SABTN: Sherokee was his niece. “I feel like I should have done more for her in life,” he says. “This is my way of honoring her; it’s the only way I can do something for her now.” Sherokee was able to hide her feelings, he says; only a few weeks before her death, she was singing karaoke provided by 3 C Events and Entertainment at La Siesta, laughing and enjoying time with family. The family “never guessed she was having trouble,” he sighs.
It was an evening of pink balloons, music, good food, and family – everything Sherokee Harriman loved. But due to bullying, she is no longer here to celebrate anything, “and this is why,” a family friend says through tears, “we’re here tonight.”
For more information on Stand Against Bullying in Tennessee (SABTN), CLICK HERE