Upstate teen shares story of bullying, message of hope for others

The Alex Michael Saving Grace Foundation was started by Alex Gaines, after he was bullied by his classmates.

GREENVILLE CO, SC (WSPA) – A viral video of a boy from Tennessee shows the heartbreaking reality of bullying.

Keaton Jones, a sixth grade student, was filmed crying and talking about the abuse he suffer from his classmates. The video is sparking a nationwide outpouring of support for the young man and the raw emotion he so publicly shared.

Over the last 72 hours, actors, athletes and regular folks on social media have rallied behind Keaton.

The bullying epidemic affects everyone, even those right here in the Upstate.

Alex Gaines, a senior at East Side High School, says he knows exactly how Keaton feels. Gaines says he was bullied for years in elementary school and middle school.

“He’s been assaulted in bathrooms numerous times, had post-it notes put on his back that said ‘kick me I’m a retard,” says Teena Gregg, Alex’s mom.

After years of abuse, Alex felt he had nowhere else to turn.

“Three little boys tied three t-shirts together and told him that the best Christmas gift he could ever give his family was to hang himself, and that he was a waste of space, he was a freak of nature and he was unworthy. He tried [to kill himself],” says Gregg.

After his recovery, Alex made it his mission to stop the bullying epidemic here in the Upstate with his Saving Grace Foundation.

“It will get better, you just gotta stay strong. Nobody deserves to feel like they’re alone,” Gaines says.

The Greenville County School District also has an anonymous tip line people can call, if they want to report bullying. That number is 864-45-BULLY (864-452-8559), or you can e-mail Greenville County Schools at quicktip@greenville.k12.sc.us.

“You can call and you can give facts and names and you don’t have to leave your name,” says Dalton Kelsey, a counselor at East Side High School. “We investigate what the call was about, so it is anonymous and therefore the students directly link to that.”

Alex says he’ll be going to elementary schools next year to talk to students about his anti-bullying campaign.