When 13-year-old Mark Wren ran for student body president earlier this year at Thatcher Middle School, Thatcher, Arizona, he already had a platform: reduce bullying at school. With the support of his parents, Patti and Bill Wren, a campaign called “Just Stop It!” was created.
The Wrens knew firsthand the devastating results of bullying. In the 1990s, another son, Skyler, endured relentless ridicule which tragically led to his death on April 15, 1999, at the age of 12.
Sixteen years later, Patti began sharing Skyler’s story—first, as a ward Young Women’s presentation, and later on a stake level. “Telling Skyler’s story has set me free. It helped me release the bitterness I have been harboring for years. I know that both Skyler’s life and his death have a purpose,” says Patti.
As the Wrens’ mission to make a difference in students’ lives progresses, the campaign continues to evolve. They set up a Facebook page called “Just Stop It.” People began using the #saveaskyler hashtag on social media. Both the presentations and the Facebook page offer information on how to stop bullying. The Wrens hand out bracelets to all the attendees and donate banners to the schools afterward to foster remembrance.
Just Stop It! has been heard in Thatcher, Safford, Pima and Duncan, Arizona. It has even reached Silver City, New Mexico. Thousands find support and strength visiting the online Facebook page. Others can support the Just Stop It! anti-bullying campaign by purchasing T-shirts or lanyards at https://myt.rocks/juststopit. All profits are used to purchase the bracelets and banners.
The T-shirts are bright red, Skyler’s favorite color. The schools in Thatcher and Safford Middle School all held “Red Out – Save A Skyler” games in various sports. One girl from Safford started “The Skyler Bench” fundraising campaign. She hopes to put red benches in all of the middle schools in the area. The benches would be a place students could go when they feel alone, need a teacher’s attention, or just wish someone would sit with them at lunch.
The Wrens are members of Thatcher 2nd Ward, Thatcher Stake. Besides Skyler and Mark, their other children include Jack, and Bryson, who is married to Allie. Patti hails from Nebraska and Bill is native to Thatcher. Their family has lived in Arizona for the past 22 years.
Patti is helping Mark fulfill his promise, with gratifying results. They now are invited to speak at schools and churches.
Results from their efforts include messages of how Skyler’s story has given people hope. Youth have reached out with genuine concerns. They are then directed to appropriate help, whether they are bullied, bullies, or bystanders.
Patti says, “I feel that Skyler is behind us and is cheering us on from the other side of the veil.”