Karen Klein has worked for the Greece Central School District for more than two decades as a bus driver. At the age of 65 she changed jobs from driver to bus monitor. Three years later in 2012 she was the victim of unspeakable cruelty at the hands of four seventh grade boys. Barely teenagers, the four bullies took a video of themselves berating a woman old enough to be their grandmother. They harassed Klein with terrible insults about her appearance and family until she was in tears. One boy said about her family “They all killed themselves, because they didn’t want to be near you.” What they didn’t know was that her son had actually killed himself in 2002.
When the video went viral the public was outraged by the boys’ behavior. People across the globe attempted to console Klein and reached out to authorities demanding justice. It wasn’t long before their voices were heard and school officials partnered with the local police department to conduct a full investigation despite the fact that Klein refused to press charges. Ultimately all four boys were suspended for an entire school year and each was forced to complete no less than 50 hours of community service. The boys were enrolled in an anti-bullying course and Klein would go on to become the face of multiple anti-bullying campaigns.
Her story doesn’t stop there, however. When Max Sidorov, an amateur philanthropist, heard her story he launched a crowdfunding campaign raising money for Klein’s surprise vacation. He felt if there was ever a woman who deserved some time off it was Klein. His campaign was a wild success and the $5,000 goal was blown out of the water with a grand total of more than $650,000 in donations. Klein was overwhelmed and announced her retirement a week later. She took $100,000 and started the Karen Klein Anti-Bullying Foundation later that year.