James Willmert is a fifth grader from Franklin Elementary School in Minnesota. Although his name sounds very American, he was actually born in Colombia. His mother, Margi, adopted him as a baby from an orphanage.
A terribly sad history, of course, but James’ story becomes even worse. The boy has a severe learning disability that caused him to be bullied by other kids. They were picking at him, making fun of him, and didn’t allow him to play with them. As a result, James was literally nervous to go to school and didn’t want to go outside during recess.
That’s when five of his classmates decided to step in. After seeing that James was being bullied again, Jack Pemble, Jake Burgess, Gus Gartzke, Tyler Jones, and Landon Kopischke went to the young boy and told him they’d have his back from now onwards. Whenever he was bullied, they’d come to his aid.
And that’s not all — they also asked him to join them in their games. Yes, James may be a bit slower and physically weaker than they are, but that doesn’t matter to them; they play football and basketball with him and make sure he truly feels like he’s one of the gang.
Beautiful, of course, but this story becomes even more wonderful. When the boys noticed that James didn’t own a video game system they decided to buy one for him. They collected their pocket money savings and asked their parents to help them out a bit, after which they gave James the best surprise of his life: a Playstation. Ever since, the boys have been visiting James regularly to play sports games together.
In return for their kindness, Jack, Jake, Gus, Tyler, and Landon have now been honored by the Mankato Area Public Schools with a Spirit of Youth Award. Best of all, the boys promise that they’ll continue to play with James, who calls them “the best friends anybody could ask for.”