HOLDEN, Mo. -- An Ohio mom traveled to the metro this weekend in honor of her daughter, Bethany Thompson. Bethany took her own life in October.
For the first time, she is opening up about her daughter’s suicide and her new mission to help put an end to bullying.
“A super sweetheart, give anything she had to anybody. Very soft, very tender. Way big-hearted.”
It’s the words Wendy Feucht uses to describe her daughter, Bethany. A little girl who, as a toddler, went through more than many do in a lifetime.
“Her eyes would get real glazy. She would get lethargic.”
Bethany was diagnosed with cancer when she was 3 years old. She had a brain tumor removed, which affected nerves in her face. After her surgery, she had trouble smiling. At the age of 6, kids started picking on her.
“We would get in front of the mirror and look at ourselves. I would say, 'you're so beautiful.' We would talk about it and build self-esteem. 'You're different. God made you that way. God doesn't make mistakes. He made every single one of us to look the way we look. The way you look saved your life,'” Feucht said.
But the bullying didn’t stop. Bethany faced relentless remarks and jokes about her unique smile.
“That just slowly -- it just slowly wore her down.”
On October 19th, Bethany told her best friend she was done. She couldn’t take it anymore.
“She came home. They heard her put her stuff down and said, 'hey, sweetie. How did your day go?' Fine! It was fine!'”
Bethany started walking through their 2-acre back yard, and then the 11-year-old took her own life.
When Wendy got home and couldn’t find her daughter, the entire family went searching. They found Bethany lying in the grass, lifeless.
“I said, 'Bethany!?' I grabbed her arm and I pulled over. Her eyes were open.”
That image replayed in Wendy’s mind over and over. She wondered, how could she get through today? Through the next day? Nothing could pull her out of it, until…
“One lady sent me a message and said I went through everything she went through, the teasing and the bullying. I know how she felt, she said 'I am Bethany.' That was the most powerful thing I had heard.”
Wendy got on Facebook and made a post. She dedicated it to the women with smiles like her daughter's and anyone who’s been bullied.
“I put #IAmBethany. It just, oh my goodness, people from Australia, Quebec, the UK, South Africa, people in the United States,” Feucht said.
People like Craig Chamberlain, in Holden, Mo.
“What drew me to Bethany? That smile. That smile drew me to Bethany,” Chamberlain said.
Craig is a softball coach and told his girls Bethany’s story. Immediately they all decided to dedicate their softball season to her and got new jerseys that read “I am Bethany,” across their hearts.
“Years down the road, people will forget. This way, they won't. He's keeping it going, keeping her name on the field,” Feucht said.
Wendy traveled to the metro and met Craig for the first time this weekend. An unlikely friendship, bonded together by passion to make a change. The two new friends hosted an assembly in Holden on Saturday. They called it “Are you Bethany?”
Their hope is spread positivity and love, to discuss bullying openly, and show teens where they can get help.
“If we can save one life out of this, just one, then everything we do is worth it."
Wendy’s broken heart is getting put back together piece by piece. It’s through showing kids like her daughter they are perfect, just the way they are.
“You are beautiful. You are perfect. God made you just how he wanted you to be. You can't listen to what anybody else tells you. You have to listen to your friends, your family. You're loved and you are special. Don't give up.”
Bethany’s mom made it a point to honor a Texas teen who ended her life this week. 18-year-old Brandy Vela took her life this week in Houston.
When Wendy heard about it, she tracked down Brandy’s dad and spoke with him on the phone. After hearing the pain in his voice, Wendy decided to light a candle for Brandy at the assembly this weekend honoring her life.
FOX 4's You Matter campaign offers resources for those struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts.