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Congratulations to Jake Stallman
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 10/22/13
Last updated on: 10/22/13
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Jake Stallman.

Congratulations to seventeen-year-old Jake Stallman of Tipton, Iowa, who will receive the Spirit of Matthew Award from the Matthew Shepard Foundation on October 26, 2013. Stallman, who was bullied in school after coming out in the seventh grade, at one point considered suicide, but after becoming a blogger in an attempt to help others cope with bullying, he regained his confidence.

As Danielle McCarty reports for Davenport's KWQC television, Stallman is being honored for overcoming bullying and embracing who he is.

After coming out, the teenager endured bullying that escalated from teasing to a death threat. He became angry and withdrawn. In despair, he contemplated suicide. Luckily, his mother discovered the Matthew Shepard Foundation and turned to them for help.

The Foundation was founded by Dennis and Judy Shepard in memory of their 21-year old son, Matthew, who was murdered in an anti-gay hate crime in Wyoming in October 1998. Created to honor Matthew in a manner that was appropriate to his dreams, beliefs, and aspirations, the Foundation seeks to "Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion, & Acceptance" through varied educational, outreach, and advocacy programs and by continuing to tell Matthew's story.

The Foundation invited Jake to begin a blog about bullying called "Jake's Place." Since beginning his blog in January 2013, he says he has found the support he needed to overcome years of bullying. He also gained the confidence to try out for the cheer team.

He was reluctant at first. "It was one of the hardest choices I had to make," he said. "I didn't want to be like put back into bullying." But with his new confidence, Jake persisted and became his high school's first male cheerleader.

"I have seen him grow as an individual," said Michelle Ellerhoff, Jake's Cheer Coach. "I've seen his confidence level increase."

Stallman says that the experience of helping others cope with bullying helped him immeasurably. "I feel like I became a warrior, a fighter. And I think I became a fighter because there are kids out there who are struggling right now. And if I'm not strong, who's going to be strong for them?"

Jake's blog may be found here.

In the video below, Danielle McCarty reports on Jake's story.

News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

The video below tells Matthew Shepard's story.

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