Karen Klein had to put up with a shocking amount of bullying from students on the school bus where she works as a monitor—but thanks to the power of the Internet, her story has a happy ending. A 10-minute video of Klein being bullied to the point of tears went viral this week, though it's hard to get through even one minute of it as kids are heard constantly taunting and berating the New York grandmother of eight. The video was initially caught on a cellphone camera and uploaded to Facebook, then placed on YouTube by an uninvolved party—where it has so far racked up more than 1.5 million views. The disturbing video inspired an online fundraising effort to send Klein on vacation—and so far, more than $261,000 has been raised (with the amount increasing constantly).
"I was trying to just ignore them, hoping they would go away and it doesn’t work," Klein tells the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. "Trust me, they didn’t go away." Though two similar videos were eventually found after the school district opened an investigation, Klein insists, "The kids weren't always that bad." She didn't report the incident, and an investigation was launched only after the video went viral yesterday; students are now being questioned by police. A particularly poignant detail: Klein is hearing-impaired and did not hear all of the jeers at the time. She makes just $15,506 a year, according to the fundraising campaign, and is considering taking her whole family on a Disney cruise with her new-found riches. The 25-year-old Reddit user who started the campaign says it has exceeded his expectations, adding, "Maybe she could retire on this." (Read more Karen Klein stories.)