BLOOMER, Wis. (WEAU) -- It's been almost six months since a local 12-year-old girl took her own life, shooting herself at her grandparents’ home in Rusk County.
On Sunday the girl’s mother and scores of friends and family came together to keep her memory alive and continue to fight against the bullying that they say led to her suicide.
In the mix of all the summer traditions at the Bloomer Community Parade there was something new this year, more than a dozen kids marching in solidarity to put a stop to bullying.
They were there for Payton Ruth Ann Richardson.
“I’ve created an anti-bully float with my ice race car on it that we race in Payton’s honor. Keep the word out there that we need to keep working in the stop the bullying campaign so our students are safe,” said Payton’s mom Melissa Richardson.
Richardson said it was bullying by classmates at Chetek-Weyerhaeuser Middle School that lead her daughter to take her own life back in February.
Richardson said since then she's refused to stay silent and wants to open eyes to the bullying that's hurting so many of our kids.
“In January I’m going to go back to the senate floor with Senator Cullen so we can try to pass that cyber bully law. I want to hand out a scholarship to a student. Can be nominated or write me a letter and tell me what you did to stand up against bullying and help your peers,” Richardson said.
Payton's mom said the school district is starting to get involved in bully prevention after saying taunting by classmates wasn't a factor in the suicide.
Richardson says the school will kick off the year with an anti-bullying concert partially funded by the organization set up in Payton’s memory.
While bullying has gone down since Payton’s death, her friends said there's still a long way to go.
“And if they try to talk about it and think it’s a joke, it’s not because can hurt themselves,” said Seka Rasmussen, Payton’s cousin.
Richardson said raising awareness about bullying has helped heal some of the pain of losing a child.
“This keeps me busy. This keeps my mind focused. And it makes me feel like I still have to something to do in life. This is my drive,” Richardson said.