By Ally Lanasa, Staff Writer
(Aug. 27, 2020) Several Salisbury-based children and teenagers received a rare opportunity on Saturday — a day with real bodyguards.
“Bodyguards Against Bullying” is an initiative that provides professional bodyguard service to youth who have been affected by serious or consistent bullying.
Autumn Allen, 13, and Traymere Bishop, 11, were selected as recipients for the giveback event. Brandon Messick, 17, Jordan Carpenter, 15, Nashawn Cook, 14, Jeremiah Bishop, 10, and Jamyla Cook, 8, also attended.
U.S. chairman for the organization, Bubba Almony, hosted the event in Berlin and Ocean City this weekend with fellow bodyguards Cory Portner and Michael Wright.
Wright and Almony gave inspiring speeches to the youth selected to participate outside of town hall at 10 William Street at 5:30 p.m.
“In order for you to elevate higher, you have to push the negativity down,” Wright said.
Almony assured the youth that they are special, and they have a support system through life.
“We’re here because we care about you guys,” Almony said. “We care about our future generation.”
He reminded them that they can turn any test into a testimony.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re from in life. It matters what you’re made of,” Almony added, who grew up in Ocean City and graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012.
Al Hondo Handy, who has been named Citizen of the Year in Ocean City, gave advice to the children and related how he has given back to the community through the town’s Parks and Recreation Department.
The youth then met Berlin Mayor Gee Williams, who spoke about overcoming his fears of public speaking as a child to become a local government official.
The mayor also gave them a tour of town hall and his office.
“Whenever you’re in Berlin, I want you to feel like part of an extended family,” the mayor said.
Next, the group of children and their guardians headed to the Berlin Fire Company on North Main Street with a police escort, where Collins Brown, a firefighter and paramedic, informed the children about a fire truck and its functions. The group also met Berlin Police Chief Arnold Downing at the fire station.
Afterward, they traveled to the Ocean City Boardwalk. The group was greeted by officers of the Ocean City Police Department on Third Street and escorted to the fishing pier at the inlet to take pictures and view the sunset.
On the pier, Wright reiterated his sentiments about ignoring others’ negativity and Almony offered some final words of encouragement about becoming whoever and whatever they desired.
“This event served as a boost to their confidence, self-esteem and to show them there are people in their corner who truly care about their safety, well-being and peace of mind,” Almony wrote on Facebook after the event.