Anti-bullying message at MEMS


MANCHESTER — Not all sweethearts or heroes look the same.

Tom Murphy looks like the last guy you'd want to pick on if you were planning on bullying someone.

With muscles threatening to bust out of his t-shirt, a shaved head and scars from his days as a mixed martial arts fighter, Murphy is intimidating.

But, like most tough guys, Murphy has a soft side, and it comes out when faced with a bleacher full of young kids who laugh at his jokes and listen attentively as he teaches techniques to combat bullying.

Helping him in his efforts is his friend. Rick Yarosh.

But despite being a standout athlete in high school and college, Yarosh presents a different image of toughness — the scars of the battlefield.

Yarosh is a retired U.S. Army sergeant who was severely injured in a blast by a roadside IED that hit his friend Bradley's fighting vehicle in 2006 in Iraq.

The explosion left Yarosh with second- and third-degree burns over 60 percent of his body. Yarosh is heavily scarred and lost his nose, both ears, multiple fingers, most of the function in both hands as well as his right leg below the knee.

Today, Yarosh is a motivational speaker who talks to sports teams, schools, churches, military and others, where he talks about turning a negative situation into a positive one and overcoming

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At MEMS, he introduced students to his service dog, Amos, a black Labrador, which Yarosh told the students helps him do things he struggles with due to the impacts of his injuries.

Together, Yarosh, Murphy and Amos formed the Sweethearts and Heroes presentation at Manchester Elementary and Middle School recently, teaching kids skills to deal with bullies and how to take care of each other when times are hard.

But they don't just talk, they pulled kids from the audience and led them through role-playing scenarios dealing with how to handle different situations.

The students don their "hero" outfit of a shower cap, goggles and a bath towel turned cape. As everyone shouted encouragement, the students would employ strategies to get the bullied person away from the bully, or to enlist a friend to help deal with the situation.

But beyond instilling in kids the idea of helping out in a situation, they empower kids with the idea that they can be the difference for other people throughout their lives.

Sweethearts and Heroes tailors the message to the age group and shares the message of HOPE — Hold On Possibilities Exist, a message they have shared with more than 1 million students in hundreds of schools across the United States.

Langway Chevy in Manchester sponsored the Sweethearts & Heroes event at MEMS.

Contact Darren Marcy at or by cell at 802-681-6534.


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