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Bullied bus monitor gets $60,000+ vacation, thanks to the Internet

June 20, 2012|By Deborah Netburn | This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.
  • A screen grab from a video posted to YouTube that shows bus monitor Karen Klein being harassed by a group of middle school kids.
A screen grab from a video posted to YouTube that shows bus monitor Karen… (YouTube )

A diverse group of Reddit fans, Twitter users, Facebookers and just plain emailers banded together Wednesday to raise more than $60,000 to send a beleaguered school bus monitor on vacation.

The story unfolded when Max Sidorov, a recent college graduate in Toronto, came across video of Karen Klein, a 68-year-old bus monitor at a middle school in upstate New York, being tormented by a pack of boys who appear to be 12 or 13.

The video, which one of the boys posted to Facebook, goes on for an excruciating 10 minutes with the kids calling Klein fat and poor. They ask her why she is sweating so much. They hurl expletives at her. They ask her if she has herpes.

It's not easy to watch.

The video made its way to Reddit, which is where Sidorov found it.

"I saw the video and I had the idea of helping her," he said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. "The best thing that came to mind was starting a fundraiser to send her on vacation."

And so at 11 a.m. Wednesday Sidorov launched a flexible funding campaign on the crowd source fundraising site Indiegogo.

"I’m not sure why these kids would want to bully a senior citizen to tears, but I feel we should do something, or at least try," Sidorov wrote in a note on the site.  "Let's give her something she will never forget -- the vacation of a lifetime!"

Three hours later he had raised $1,300. Within five hours he had reached his $5,000 goal. By the time of this writing, he had raised close to $60,000.

Sidorov has been in touch with Klein's daughter, and she told him that she and her mom are working out the details of her dream vacation.

Sidorov has promised to keep everyone posted on whatever she decides to do.

I asked Sidorov why the campaign caught on so quickly. 

"Bullies," he said. "That's the real reason. People want to stand up for the little guy and everybody just forwarded it. I just had a good idea and everybody else took it and ran with it." 

For the record, 7:56 p.m. June 20:  An earlier version of this post gave Max Sidorov's last name as Sokolov.

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