Baumhower: #BeThereForKaylee

Written by: Jeremy Baumhower

Photo Courtesy of 13ABC

Photo Courtesy of 13ABC

I was one of those. I was one of the vast majority. In 2006, I had never heard the word “progeria” before.

It was Marla Halko who introduced me to the word and what it meant.

I remember asking Marla to repeat the word and again explain the disorder to me. We were having a phone conversation about booking her family as guests for the Tower 98.3 radio show that I was on. Marla was trying to promote Kaylee’s 5K Run. She finally referenced Brad Pitt’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and I was beginning to comprehend. I still had no idea.

The morning a then 3 year-old Kaylee Halko walked into the studio forever changed my views on humanity and parenting.

Kaylee was shy for like 30-seconds before she finally opened up and let herself fill the room. She was outgoing and charismatic. I watched in amazement as Marla spoke into one microphone, informing Toledo of the incredibly rare disorder her daughter had, while watching Kaylee act like she was lip-synching into another. Kaylee was behaving the very same way my then three year-old daughter, Kacee, would when she would visit the studio.Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 9.05.53 AM

Its these moments when you see a child, similar in age to one of yours, dealing with something you can not understand, where you see how lucky your family has been to have four healthy children. I wasn’t just blown away by Kaylee’s personality and heart; I was overwhelmed with amazement that the Halkos were trying to raise awareness and make a difference, while raising a child with progeria.

I promised Marla when she left the studio that day, that I would always be there for her family, from promotion of any charity event to everything else.

Toledo can be a small-town. Kaylee’s older brother, Brendan, plays baseball and so does my son, Braden. Brendan and Braden played numerous games against each other throughout the last several years. During these baseball games Kaylee and my Kacee would occasionally play and run around. My daughter was born just two months before Kaylee.

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 9.07.02 AM

Kaylee and Brendan

Brendan and Braden, Kaylee and Kacee; you can start to understand my belief in karma.

The Kaylee I met 8 years ago, is the same girl you’d meet today. She is fearless, confident, energetic, outgoing and loving. She changes the dynamic of every room she has ever entered. Kaylee has inadvertently become a teacher of acceptance, one who proves the theory of where true beauty lies. It is for these various reasons why her being bullied has affected me and everyone around her.

Earlier this year Kaylee’s 4th grader classmate and an older sibling, created some Instagram accounts titled “Progerian_Haters” and “PROGERIANS_KISS_MY_ASS”. One account proclaimed “Progerians are from other planets. They have ugly f–king vein heads, they do belong to satin(sic). One day the progerian apoclypes will everyone” while other was more simple in it’s hate stating “Why don’t those f–king aliens die!!”. Very few things have negatively affected my view on humanity as much as these Instagram pages.

Tim Halko Breaks the Silence on Kaylee’s Bullying

To make matters worse, the school and the Anthony Wayne School District believe this was not a case of “bullying”. Let me repeat it… in the school’s eyes these hate-created pages was not a form of “bullying”.

I have a theory as to why this happened and why it has not become a bigger national story; no one knows or can relate to progeria. It is simply too rare.

Can you imagine the national uproar if instead of progeria Kaylee had cancer, where chemo took her hair and these Instagram pages proclaimed ““Cancer patients are from other planets. They have ugly f–king vein heads, they do belong to satin(sic).” or “Why don’t those f–king cancer patients die?”. Can you imagine what the outcome would have already been if Kaylee was a minority and these children used the n-word?

Progerians are so rare that there is a not a hate-inspired slur for them.

The school district’s response and lack of action have made the Halkos decide to sell their home and move. They’ve made a choice to put Kaylee’s safety first. I can’t blame them.

One of the biggest causes of death for those afflicted with progeria is accidental head trauma. Their bodies are so fragile that lives have been ended as a result of falling and hitting the ground. Imagine what a push from behind or even worse.. what a punch could do?

In all of my columns talking about Kaylee I have purposely refused to list this following fact. It breaks my heart to have to do so now. According to progeria research, “Children with Progeria die at an average age of thirteen years.”

Kaylee Halko celebrates her 11th birthday in a couple of weeks.

One of the hardest things in any child’s life is when their family has to move, resulting in a new school. Kaylee’s already hard life, just got a little bit harder.

If your heart is not broken… while simultaneously clenching your fist, then we can’t be friends.

This is the part of the story where you can make a difference. The moment where we go from hitting the “share” button Facebook to being for a family when they need it the most.

This Monday morning, June 30th at 8 AM, Marla Halko has been approved to address the Anthony Wayne School board about the district’s response to Kaylee’s bullying. This public meeting will take place at Anthony Wayne School Administration Center, located at 9565 Bucher RD, Whitehouse, OH 43571.

I think Marla Halko and her family should not stand there alone. The Anthony Wayne School board needs to see how affected this community is by their inaction. They need to feel the love we have for this family and this special little girl. If there was ever moment where simply your presence would send a message, this is it.

  • If you are sickened by those Instagram pages, you need to #BeThereForKaylee
  • If you are furious the Halkos are moving, you need to #BeThereForKaylee.
  • If you don’t agree with the way AWS has handled this situation, you need to #BeThereForKaylee.
  • If you have dealt with a bully or had a child who is/was bullied, you need to #BeThereForKaylee.
  • If you have learned about Progeria from Kaylee, have raised monies for it’s research, you need to #BeThereForKaylee.
  • If Kaylee has impacted your life, if she has taught your heart a lesson it had not yet learned before, if you think she has made the world and our community a better place by existing in it, you need to #BeThereForKaylee..

If a child with progeria can be bullied, what child is safe?

I will be there Monday morning keeping a promise I made a long time ago. I hope many of you will stand next to me. Kaylee and the Halkos are worthy of your time, support and love.



Columnist, Writer for Radio Shows across the US & Canada, Promoter, Believer, Father

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Posted in Baumhower, Bullying, Column, Discussion, education, Family, Fatherhood, Feels, Kaylee Halko, Life, Motherhood, News, Parenting, Schools, Swanton, Sylvania, Toledo, Waterville
49 comments on “Baumhower: #BeThereForKaylee
  1. Cathy thomas says:

    This should have been a learning experience for the bullies. Their parents should have been informed and should have talked to their daughters about bullying and empathy. The girls need to know how to be caring, humane, and understanding of others. Treat others as you would like to be treated. The school should handle all hate messages as bullying.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Terri says:

    This is so very, very wrong. AW admin have dug their heels in and won’t budge, at the expense of a child’s health and welfare.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful! Thank you for this! I hope anyone within traveling distance makes the effort. If it were possible to get there from WA State, I would. I’ll be there in spirit and have already written to the school district. I’ve informed The Bully Project and Lee Hirsch (BULLY documentary creator). I believe they have spread the word.
    Always in my heart My lil’ Angel, Kaylee! ❤
    #BeThereForKaylee #WeLoveYouKaylee

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Monica Metcalf says:

    I work on Mondays and cannot be there physically, but I will be there in thought and prayer. This is a horrendous slap in the face from a school district that is in charge of teaching AND protecting the children within its 4 walls. Shame on them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The only word for this is sickening.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Emma Jane Schrolucke says:

    I will

    Liked by 1 person

  7. :( says:

    Cathy- the parents were informed right away and have taken no responsibility or required their SONS to take responsibility for their actions. Why would they if they are allowed not to? Assuming that everyone is kind, caring, etc. Is wonderful and idealistic, but unfortunately is not the case here.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Bob Thomas says:

    I used to deliver mail to the Halkos on Sat and any time you saw this beautiful little girl se is so full of life and fun. She is always smiling. If you see here anyplace she comes up to you and always says hi. How anyone could be unkind to this young lady I will never understand.The kids who did these sould be the outcast

    Liked by 1 person

  9. And you wonder why Anthony Wayne High School was highlighted in an episode of “If You Really Knew Me…” on MTV. I can’t believe ANY school system would allow such blatant hatred and bullying. Those kids should be dealt with accordingly, not ignored.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jan O'Mailia says:

    I will be there to support them. One of our children was severely bullied at AWHS. Heiis still suffering the consequences of this years after high school.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I will do my best to be there. I have a younger sister with Down Syndrome, and she is my world. I abhor bullying in any arena, but ESPECIALLY over social media. There is nothing more loathsome and cowardly than hiding behind a computer screen using media to hatefully assault people who are different. I know it’s tough for schools and parents to police, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Something’s gotta give, and people need to be held accountable for their vile actions, whether it was committed in person on online.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. DB says:

    Disgusting and for AW School to completely ignore the bullying of this little girl and not do anything about it–they need to be held accountable at the state and federal level!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Don Andrukat says:

    Jer….knowing the Halkos and being on the original Ohio Progeria Foundation Board, it sickens me and my wife Jacquie that the ignorance of the haters and stupidity of the school has come to this. I wish we were closer to attend the meeting with you,,,but please send our love and support to all on the side the Progeria. Bless you friend for what you do….and I am sincere when I call you a friend! Don Andrukat

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Troy says:

    AWs loss – Eastwood win. I met Kaylee for the first time a few months ago and she is amazing.
    There are no guarentees but I would be shocked if anything like this happens at Eastwood. With that being said, if it does, I’m ok with ferrying a call from the Principal saying that one of the Slattman boys got suspended for standing up for Kaylee. I’m good with a little old school. Eastwood welcomes the Halko Family. Good People.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kristy says:

      Well said, Troy! I know quite a few others that would be right there with your boys. I also believe the parents and administration would put an end to the bullying before any of our kids had to get involved.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. WSM says:

    From what I’ve been told (from family in the AW system), the parents of these bullies (rotten brats) donate $$ to the school system. Therefore, the Board doesn’t want to cause any problems. SHAME in the ENTIRE Board !!! Thank you Jeremy !!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tanya says:

      Well you heard wrong. The smart board donated was long ago and had nothing to do with the schools choice in the boys punishment. If you don’t know the facts please don’t share information.


  16. Pam Ramirez Salas says:

    I wish I still lived in Toledo. I would be there for Kaylee. I live in CT now, but I feel that AWS is very negligent in the way they handled this. Bless you Kaylee, and I am with you and yor family in spirit! Don’t ever let the bullies win!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Kristy says:

    My son will be in Kaylee’s class at Eastwood. We are all so very excited to add her and her family to our Eagle family. I’m just so very sorry it is for these reasons. Looks like we have a meeting to attend on Monday!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Kathy says:

    I hope I can be there for Kaylee. I will check with my boss and see if I can come into work an hr. late Monday. This has broken my heart for this beautiful family and their precious little sweetheart. I cannot even image the pain they are going through—life, in general, can be tough enough. Why would anyone want to make such disgusting remarks? What if it was their child, brother, or sister? I moved to Waterville 5 years ago (AWS district) and love it here but this has sickened me. I am ashamed now and I can’t believe the board does not recognize that this is BULLYING!! Even an 8 year old would admit this is BULLYING!!!! Shame on them that they have caused this family to pull up their children’s lives and move elsewhere!! This is unbelievable! We should all be outraged!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Tina Myers says:

    Shame on AW. Arent we supposed to be teaching our children about anti- bullying. If my children attended this school, I would pull them out instantly and encourage all financial supporters to stop! This is by far the worst. She is a beautiful child and should be treated as such. No one deserves that.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. setdesigner1 says:

    It is quite obvious that the AW district administration has no problem stooping to this terrible level just to get Kaylee and her family out of their hair. It doesn’t help either that the bully’s family is a financial benefactor to the district. This way, they get to keep the influential money rolling in, and get rid of their “problem child.” Pathetic.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. If Anthony Wayne Schools are so bad, why did the Halko family stick around for so long? Truth is Anthony Wayne Schools might not be perfect, but there is WAY more GOOD in AW than bad. I have two daughters that have attended Monclova Elementary School with Kaylee, so I feel like I’ve been a front row observer these last 4 years. I’ve seen countless teachers, students, administrators, and parents go above and beyond to make this little girl feel special and loved. Kaylee has enjoyed the majority of the last 4 years of elementary school with “Rock Star” status. Why? Because of all the amazing people in and around the Anthony Wayne School system! To forget about all of that and say AW is a terrible school district because a 10-year-old did something stupid, is just wrong.

    I think everyone agrees, what happened to Kaylee and the Halko family is painful and heartbreaking, but is revenge and hatred toward the entire AW school system really the answer? Would anyone really feel better right now if AW would have chastised this little boy for the wrongs he committed?

    I pray for our community that anyone who is harboring hatred would choose to forgive and to show love. Not for the ones they are forgiving, but so they themselves can have peace in their hearts. Please listen to the song “Losing” by Tenth Avenue North.


    • Revenge? No. Justice? YES.
      This “little boy”, which implies innocence, is not acting in any way that I would call him a “little boy”. His language, no-how, actions, and behaviors are not of a “little boy”. Chastising him would have been appropriate on the 1st incident. Unfortunately, he has crossed numerous boundaries. Kaylee had done well until THIS LAST YEAR! They toughed it out, but put their house up for sale so she could transfer schools. You apparently have not read up on the whole situation. You’re backing the WRONG people!
      You seem to think of yourself as a ‘Christian’ and I can tell you, this family that has tormented Kaylee are in no way living their lives with ‘Christian Values’. Go talk your nonsense to someone, somewhere else. Your views and opinions are the same as the so-called parents of these kids and the District, themselves; why don’t you go over to that side? We don’t need your skewed opinion here. We’re here for Kaylee and her family. You and people like you are not wanted here!! At least, I don’t want you here. You’re spreading the poison they are trying to shield their Daughter from. This is a support page for KAYLEE, NOT AW!!
      #BeThereForKaylee #WeLoveYouKaylee

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sara, Your comment in response to mine is exactly why I felt the need to make my comment in the first place. I’ve been following this story for quite a while, and it’s obvious people like yourself are filled with anger and rage regarding this whole situation. That makes me sad for you. Whatever “justice” you think is going to come as a result of all of this will never be enough to make you happy, and to make it worse, you’re trying to spread hate to accomplish what you think is right. I am in no way against Kaylee. I think this whole situation stinks, but when you choose to return hate with more hate, everyone loses. When you choose to love others and forgive others, then and only then will a real impact for positive change be made.

        Jesus said,
        “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28
        Jesus also said while being crucified,
        “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

        Sara, Hate, anger, revenge, “justice”, etc. is not the answer. I’ll pray that God softens your heart and helps you choose to love and forgive they way He loves and forgives you and I.


      • Tiresome says:


        What makes you so upset with others trying to not ramp this whole situation into drama overload? You and your comedic sarcasm is making it worse on this support page. I will never go on record and say a ten year old is a lost cause because of something he or she might say. Who is to say that Kaylee and this boy dont communicate with each other? If you can sit back and say you have never poked fun, or made a mean comment as a pre teen, then by all means go ahead and keep standing on your soapbox. You can have your opinions, and let other people have theirs. You dont have to jump to save Pro Kaylee site just because someone differs in an opinion. I am for helping all children become better human beings. That would include Kaylee and her tormentors. They both need kindness and love to make it through this rough enough world.


    • Tanya says:

      Thank you. You are spot on.


      • Whatever you say, “smokebaseball”. You can keep your preaching to yourself. This is not church. It’s not hate. Justice would be assigning the responsibility to those who refuse to be accountable. Apologies that are long overdue. You are misinformed, not me. Nice try though. I’ll stick with my opinions and with my support for Kaylee and her family. Buh-Bye, now.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Tiresome, Please feel free to continue to attack me. Your opinion of me is none of my business. There are 3 of you with the same opinion, the other 30+ do not share your point of view. Please continue to put your anger on me, please take all your frustrations out on me, please be rude and mean to me; I am a Big Girl and I can bear more than you can put out. I will take all you have to dish, that way I can be the focus for your negativity and you won’t get to Kaylee with it…so please, by all means, keep dishing it, my plate has plenty of room. Thank you! Have a nice afternoon! 😉


      • Apolegetic says:


        No hate at all towards you, minor negativity I will concede that. Apologies are needed to all involved, I got myself emotionally involved and I for one don’t know all details. I am a person who thinks that everyone is entitled to their opinions, no matter how off base they might be. This post should be in support of this child, i am in full suppirt of that. I judt did not like that there were back and forths going on about people that nobody knows personally and making broad generalizations about how “stupid” they are. I support any child that is being negatively impacted in their lives from harsh actions and words. It affects more lives than we could ever know.


  22. Anita Melby says:

    We will be out of town on Monday, but the Halkos have our prayers and support! Kaylee’s grandmother was in my high school graduating class, and we have stayed in touch!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Apologetic,

      I am sorry, but I went thru all of my comments and I couldn’t find any that I called anyone “stupid”.

      I feel well informed. I don’t know if you are personally connected to the Halkos or not, but I believe I have been given, in great detail, all the facts from both sides of the arguments including all the grey areas.

      I won’t apologize for being emotionally vetted in this fight. Granted, I may feel a little more in awe of Kaylee because she is incredibly endearing and a very special little lady. However, my passion is advocating for children/teens/young adults in combatting Bullying and for Anti-Suicide. I spend most of my time coaching children in creating a Bully-Free climate in their lives. I spend endless hours talking young people down from suicide. I am 100% dedicated to ensuring every young person I come into contact with, a right to a safe and nurturing learning environment (and someday hopefully, a living one, as well; that’s a whole different subject). While it’s happening in a Public School, it’s the Public’s business.

      I really don’t know why the 3-4 of you are so insistent that I’m fueling some fire or standing on a soapbox, but call it what you will. Again, your opinions of me are none of my business. I know my heart is exactly where it should be. I am flexing my muscles and willing to take on anything anyone wants to say to or about me. I am a Big Girl and can handle much more than anything anyone would like to dish out! I am happy to carry it all so that you can get it all out of your system and have nothing left for Kaylee!!

      At this point, I am done with these conversations. They are unproductive and my energy and focus is needed elsewhere. Thank you for allowing me the courtesy to prove my point even further.

      It’s a beautiful sunny day and I have a family to enjoy, so please have a lovely the rest of the afternoon/evening.


      Liked by 1 person

  23. ashley says:

    No one is saying the AW system is all bad BUT when something like this happens and they turn a blind eye it is ridiculous. No one wants to go after a school system for fun, this is for the benefit of aw schools. How many more suicides and or bullying cases must aw recieve before it is stopped. this is just one small step in the right direction for aw schools and needs to be handled before anyone else becomes a victum. By saying aw is wonderful and the good outshines the bad would be false. The good things are that good things that people are blessed to have but the bad are things no child student or anyone should have to deal with. This is not a grey matter it is black and white. Bullying is wrong and aw not lending support to kaylee at this time is a shame. IT should not come down to a town meeting. It should have been handled better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ashley, you nailed it! Thank you!

      Best Points that I LOVE:
      “How many more suicides and or bullying cases must aw receive before it is stopped.”
      “the bad are things no child student or anyone should have to deal with.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Scott says:

        What is being done with parents of these girls? Social media bullying is not just a school system problem! This hatred can only be corrected by the parents! Suspending/discipline won’t stop the cyber bullying. School systems like AW are government entities incapable of correcting behavior like this.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Tanya says:

      I don’t know if you’re from the district or not but in all of Anthony Wayne’s history there has been one suicide, which the parents said was not a result of bullying, and not many bullying problems. The school has done all they legally can do to help Kaylee and her family. Kaylee being the special girl she is FORGAVE the boy right away and continued being her bubbly self. Teachers were informed of the situations and were watching the boy who goes to school with her literally 24/7 to make sure no harm came kaylees way. You obviously don’t know the facts as well as half if the people trying to rip AW apart. Please keep your hateful comments about AW to yourself.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ashley says:

        I am from this district and one suicide would be a lie. I have grown up in the community and have seen many tragic bullyingn cases just like these maybe you don’t because you are older but I am first hand right there so please don’t tell me to get my facts straight when I go to aw and see it every day. Get YOUR facts straight. And I didn’t disrespect the school system in my comments in any way I clearly said the good does not outshine the bad, because it doesn’t. And do u read what u write she needed guarded 24/7… What child should have to be guarded 24/7. No child should have to be watched and change their lives and routine because some little boy decided he has a problem with her and wants to make her feel bad. Yes maybe kaylee forgave him yes maybe she continues to be her bubbly self BUT this page is not just for kaylee it is for anyone who has to tolerate these situations, because what happens to the kid who can’t shrug it off. Aw is a great school system as I stated before but they plain and simple need to make changes because wouldn’t you rather be a school whose good didn’t have to outshine the bad by just simply being good?

        Liked by 1 person

  24. Tamara Sparks says:

    I have just added this event to my calendar. I just canceled another appointment to be there. I am a “rare” facebook reader…….so I am a little behind the times…..sorry for that What I would like to know is who are these boys and more importantly who are their parents??? I read the comments looking for that – but could not find it. If they are someone I (or my kids) associate with, I want to know, so that we can chose our friends more wisely!!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Tamara, because the Halko’s are respectful, they’ve left the names out on purpose. I do believe if you are able to attend on Monday, those names will not be omitted. Thank you for supporting Kaylee and her Family!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Scott says:

    For my info, did this bullying occur at school face to face sort of speak? If teachers, etc. turned a blind eye then there is a problem. Otherwise, they cannot control social media unless it affects learning environment? I want some outrage towards these boy’s parents!! They are ultimately responsible and are fostering the hatred the boys have!

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Scott says:

    Thanks, i will read them!
    I have met kaylee and my wife & I are very upset at what is occuring. That said, my faith in any school district to be effective is not there! My first action, if my daughter was treated as kaylee has been would not be to the school board but to these boy’s parents. I would make it crystal clear this has to stop or my next visit will be one they won’t forget!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, Scott. From what I know of schools across the nation is that they have to ‘protect’ each student’s privacy. It would seem that’s all they protect. I know there was a restraining order against the boy, but a permanent order would require Kaylee to testify. The Halkos chose not to pursue it in hopes of guarding Kaylee from as much as possible and chose to not have her testify. Ultimately, it was up to the school and the district to ensure the boy was handled properly, which is where it failed. That’s why things are the way they are now and why the school board is being confronted on Monday. I hope you found the articles helpful and that they answered the questions you had. Again, thank you for supporting Kaylee and her Family!

      Liked by 1 person

  28. […] RELATED: Baumhower: #BeThereForKaylee […]


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