Not even a half-million dollars can erase the pain. Not yet.
The opening of hearts and wallets has been overwhelming since an Indiegogo campaign was launched this week for bullied bus monitor Karen Klein, says her daughter Amanda Romig, who is now co-administrator for the fund drive. More than $500,000 has been donated for Klein’s “$5,000 vacation” after millions viewed the new 10-minute video of the 68-year-old grandmother getting verbally assaulted by middle-schoolers.
But Klein and her family are not at a place of forgiveness. Not yet.
“When I first saw the video, I was pretty much raging,” Romig tells the Style Blog from her hometown of Greece, N.Y., where her mother also lives. “It was outrageous that somebody was actually saying this stuff to my mom and screaming at her like that.
“There’s not going to be forgiveness from us — not right now.”
Some in the media have said they would endure such verbal slings and arrows if the payoff was in the mid-six figures, as it is now. But for Klein, the wounds are still too raw.
“My mom says she’s not ready,” Romig tells the Style Blog. “She never wants to see those kids’ faces ever again in her life. She’s got nothing to say to them.”
Klein was a bus driver for 20 years and had been a bus monitor for three. “But she had never experienced anything like this before,” says her daughter, who notes that her own children are enrolled in the same Greece Central School District, which says it is investigating the incident. If her mom goes back to work, Romig says, it may be at an elementary school — but not with high-school or middle-school students.
The campaign — which still has 29 days to go — was launched by Max Sidorov of Toronto, who had viewed the video and decided Karen Huff Klein “deserves a vacation.” More than 21,000 funders have responded.
Romig says all the raised funds will go to her mother. And Indiegogo CEO Slava Rubin tells the Style Blog in a statement: “We hope that this Indiegogo campaign contributes positively to the important national discussion about bullying.”
Forgiveness may not be at hand, but amid the outpouring from around the globe (including nine Disney World tickets presented by CNN’s Anderson Cooper), Romig says one expression of support has been particularly moving.
“The dad of one of the worst (behaving) boys came over and apologized to my mom,” Romig says. “It brought tears to his eyes.
“He wants to come back and sit with my mom.”