Family starts anti-bullying program after teen's death

Posted at 8:08 PM, Nov 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-14 23:27:35-05

The family of a local teen who took his own life, is now working to honor his legacy by helping others recognize and cope with bullying.

15-year-old Devin Kurzdorfer committed suicide in April. His family says he was cyber-bullied by fellow students attending Kenmore West High School. His mom, Toni, says she even pulled Devin out of school during his sophomore year because the bullying got so bad.

"Kids just picked on him a lot and he dealt with it the best he could," said Toni Kurzdorfer.

Devin was receiving counseling and therapy but his grandfather, Joe Smajdor, says he believes it all became too overwhelming for his grandson.

"There were parts of him we didn't know about," said Smajdor.

Now, the family is working to keep Devin's memory alive with a new foundation called "Devin's Message." The foundation will fund in-school programs to teach kids about the dangers of bullying and how to cope when it happens.

"The message basically is building self image," Smajdor said. "The Golden Rule -- treating people the way you want to be treated."

Smajdor says the program will involve the entire school community -- students, teachers and even parents.

"It's not just going to happen with one side, it's going to happen with all of them," Smajdor said.

It's all to honor Devin, whose mom says worked to help his peers who were suffering, even though he was suffering himself.

"People came to him and felt opn to say things to him about it, and he'd try to help other kids get through the bullying or certain depression or anxiety that kids were having," Kurzdorfer said. "He was a good listener and he was a kind boy. He was very kind."

Devin's family plans to meet with representatives of the Ken-Ton School District later this month to discuss getting the program into schools.

The school district released this statement in response:

"It is vitally important for schools to provide students with the social-emotional supports they need to be successful in and out of school. The Ken-Ton School District is always open to new ideas on how to address the social-emotional needs of students. In Ken-Ton, providing a safe and positive school environment is a priority so that all students have the opportunity to flourish and achieve success."