Community Rallies Around Autistic Girl Who Was Bullied at Parade (VIDEO)
This is a story that will make you cry -- first out of unbelievable anger at a cruel young man and for the heartbreak of Emily Mueller, an 11-year-old girl with autism, who was his target. Then, out of joy for the kindness of strangers who helped remedy the situation.
It started at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans. Emily's mother, Amy Mueller, described on the blog NOLA Femmes just how excited Emily was for the parade, counting down the days on the calendar beginning in January. Only once she was there, her big expectations for an incredible evening of fun took a heart-wrenching turn for the worse. After Amy asked a college-age man/drunken idiot who had almost spilled beer on Emily and burned her with a cigarette to be more mindful, he became belligerent and shouted, "This retard is making watching the parade a challenge.”
Amy's words describing her daughter's reaction are incredibly difficult for anyone to read:
A night she had been looking forward to, planning and anticipating for a few months, had just been marred by that bad behavior of a grown person.
“Mama. please, can we go home? He told everyone I’m a retard. I’m not a retard, am I, Mama?” she asked. The grin was gone, replaced by a quivering lip. The sparkle in her eyes had dispersed, and they were now filled with a flow of tears falling down her full, pink cheeks.
How Amy didn't pummel that man right there is incredible; she's a better person than I. With his drunken, hateful words, that one man crushed an innocent little girl. "No, Mama. I don’t think I want to do Mardi Gras anymore. Not ever again," she told her mother on the way home.
I just can't imagine seeing your innocent daughter experience that kind of anguish.
There is, however, a happy ending, or at least as happy as one can hope in the face of such horrifying humanity. Response to her powerful blog post was so strong that the community came together to give Emily a parade experience of her own. The Krewe of Muses, one of the parade organizers, brought her into their den with hundreds of people to show her a good Mardi Gras experience with a special event just for her.
Kathleen Parke, a member of Muses, told WWLTV:
I thought it was important for people to remember the power of our words, that we have the power to hurt and we have the power to heal. And if one person makes a stupid mistake and hurts, than the rest of us need to show that we have the power to heal, too.
We can only hope that the young man who uttered the hateful words sees this story and realizes how much damage he did with that one little word.