(WEAU) – What happens when the Bears-Packers rivalry crosses the line? A former Green Bay Packers cheerleader takes a brave stand after she was targeted by Chicago Bears fans online.
Kaitlyn Collins, a former UW-Green Bay student was a Packers cheerleader from 2009-2010.
But on Monday, someone uploaded a picture of Collins cheerleading onto the Chicago Bears Fan Facebook page, writing “Like if you agree the Packers have the worst cheerleaders in the NFL!”
Despites hundreds of hateful comments, Collins found a way to bring good from something hurtful by creating a Youtube video that takes a stand against cyber-bullying.
She took matters into her own hands by posting the video just a couple of days later in response to those spiteful comments. Throughout the clip, she silently shares a backstory, asking viewers to help get the photo post taken down and to end cyber-bullying.
Collins contacted Facebook to take down the photo but Facebook administrators responded, saying the photo did not fall under its “bullying” category. The administrator of the Chicago Bears Fan Facebook page was also contacted but did not take down the post until Thursday.
The photo had more than 3,500 “likes” 1,600 comments Thursday afternoon, including one that read, “Doesn’t get any uglier. Truly an eyesore.” Other comments are too vulgar to even mention.
"I looked at the comments, my parents were with me and we were surprised and hurt, those comments, they were terrible," said Collins.
But what were once tears turned into smiles when she found out along with those nasty comments, there were also positive ones from Packers and Bears fans alike, rooting her on and sticking up for her.
Family friend Anni Bjerke of Eau Claire says Collins’ response was moving and powerful.
“She is just showing how her parents raised her, that you don't lower yourself to somebody else’s way of behaving and acting when they abuse you. You standup and you square your shoulders and you don’t go there,” said Bjerke who became friends with Collins’ family when her husband reconnected with Collins’ dad.
The Bears-Packers rivalry is a historic one and it ended up hurting an innocent victim, said Bjerke.
“It’s choosing to use her image as the springboard for all kinds of venomous talk. She has nothing to do with this rivalry. She’s a fan of the Packers but she has nothing to do with the hatred between certain members of the fans,” said Bjerke. “It goes to show the internet is an amazing tool but it can be used for good and it can be used for complete evil.”
Collins’ photo was removed from the Chicago Bears Fan page Thursday afternoon with an apology, saying the Facebook page does not condone bullying.
The Green Bay Packers even sent out a statement saying, “As an organization, we find the online commentary extremely offensive. We support Ms. Collins and her very classy response to the situation and encourage Packers fans and others to support her as well."
“Kaitlyn is going to be fine,” said Bjerke. “She has support system, she has parents who love her, she has a dad who loves her, she has friends and families supporting her. What she says in her video response is that she’s concerned how this happens every day and for people who don’t have that (support system) at home and teens are committing suicide over despairing discouraging images of them put on the internet.”