Purple and black jerseys filled the bright gold seats of SECU Arena Friday night as Ravens fans flocked for Super Bowl champion Ray Rice’s anti-bullying rally. The rows of the lower bowl were lined with purple links of paper, each with a positive message written in black ink to convey the purpose of Rice’s “Links of Kindness” campaign.
The sold-out event was the third major rally hosted by Ray Rice and his foundation to promote kindness and raise awareness about the dangers of bullying and cyberbullying.
“I’m an older brother and I remember what it was like when I heard my little sister was being bullied,” Rice told the packed stands. “It haunts me. I wanted to find the people that were doing it and do whatever it took to make it stop.
“We need to get the message out there by talking to people, and together we can stop bullying.”
The program featured presentations by family members of Grace McComas, a 15-year-old who committed suicide in 2012 after extensive cyberbullying. In 2013, Governor Martin O’Malley signed “Grace’s Law,” a bill that strengthened the state’s ability prosecute cyberbullying-related crimes.
Grace’s mother, Christine, gave a stirring presentation that included photos of her daughter, a description of the threats she suffered and examples of harassment through social media, including Twitter.
“We are talking about it and raising awareness and that’s the only way to make change,” Christine McComas said. “We need to bring kindness back. We need to make kindness cool again.”
As part of the event, Rice brought out a 12-year-old from Baltimore named Malachi who had been bullied in his community. At center court at SECU Arena, Rice surprised Malachi by introducing actors Eric Martinez and Quinton Aaron, who starred in the film “The Blind Side” about Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher. Malachi, who said his dream is to be an actor, was also surprised when Martinez and Aaron told him that they had secured three different acting roles in TV and movies.
“I feel like bullying has no place in our community, society, because if these kids are truly willing to grow up and learn with each other, you never know what they might be,” said Rice.