The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Students hear anti-bullying message


December 9, 2017

Ian Minielly/Daily Globe

WORLD AND National martial arts champion Mariah Moore puts on a demonstration as part of a presentation to area seventh through 12th grade students about bullying Friday at Gogebic Community College. She said she was bullied from the age of 12 by her peers after becoming a world champion, but continued to succeed through hard work.

IRONWOOD - Mariah Moore, 20-time martial arts world champion with another 19 national championships, visited Gogebic Community College Friday to talk to 7-12 grade area students about bullying.

She has an "Enough is Enough" anti-bullying campaign.

Moore said she was an average girl, from a small town, without any appreciable gifts who through hard work, grit and determination became a world champion in martial arts at 12.

Missy Lane, of Gogebic County Community Mental Health, said she first became aware of Moore's story a few years ago, but then forgot about it. Then this year, as they were preparing for their fifth annual Life Quest assembly, which was launched in response to a suicide, a colleague said, "Why do we always have male guest speakers?"

Lane took that question to heart and began corresponding with Moore, who is busy as a college student and speaker, but had the time to fit the Life Quest assembly into her schedule.

Moore's story started in a small town outside Grand Rapids, as she is a Michigander. At 8, when she was introduced to martial arts, she said she told her mom she wanted to be a world champion. Her mom supported her and said she could.

At 12, the family went to Disney World in Orlando for the world championships and Moore won, just like she said she would. Moore was on top of the world.

Soon thereafter, school was starting and the 12-year-old Moore was heading into seventh grade. The first day of school Moore was not congratulated or held up as a champion, but found her peers who had been her friends turned on her and made her their common enemy.

The girls picked on her and the boys were physical, but they both were consistent in bullying Moore. She said she went home crying that day and every day for the rest of the year.

From grades 7 through 12, Moore was alone; she did not tell anyone at home or in school she was being bullied. Sure, she could have violently beaten those taunting her, but she remained cool and allowed them to isolate her.

She ate alone, sat alone, and received an endless stream of insults and physical contact designed to tear her world apart. The only person Moore confided in was her karate instructor, who she credits with saving her life because he affirmed her worth and her value, despite what her peers were saying and doing.

Moore is 23 now. In the span of 11 years she became a world and national champion 39 times. Moore said she already had a career as a successful fitness model, which resulted in even more bullying and last July entered six categories of fighting and won gold in all six.

Moore says she picked herself up with her bootstraps, despite the long odds coming from a small town without great financial resources.

Much like the Horatio Alger myth that all a person needs to make it is grit, courage and a never say quit attitude, Moore is a champion, but she is is also the longtime victim of bullying and shaming.

Moore said she "is proof that anyone can be anything they want to be if they believe and work hard enough."

Moore left the assembled kids from Hurley, Ironwood, Bessemer, Wakefield-Marenisco and Ewen-Trout Creek with two steps to counter bullying:

-Walk away and do not respond. Moore said not to give the bullies what they crave, which is a response, be it verbal or physical.

-Tell someone. More said if people like parents or teachers do not know about the bullying, they cannot step in to help.

Moore told the students they are responsible for their actions and accountable to their classmates. If they see bullying, they need to step in and stop it. The students need to be the courage for someone else because no one stood up for Moore and, "We have no idea what people are going through, if that one more word (from a bully) will be enough" to cause someone to take an action they cannot recover from.

GCC is hosting a party tonight for area students called "Unite." The party is an answer to bullying with hope, humor and love. The kids were encouraged to bring all their friends to enjoy Life Quest.


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