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Minnesota Fifth-Graders Honored For Standing Up to Bullies

Don’t mess with “The James Gang”.

James Willmert is a fifth-grader at Franklin Elementary in Mankato, Minnesota with a learning disability. “He used to not want to go out for recess or anything, it would be like a struggle,” says Margi Willmert, James’ mom. “And now he can barely eat his lunch to get outside to play with those guys.”


Why the turnaround at Franklin? Five fifth-grade boys now known as “The James Gang”: Gus, Tyler, Landon, Jake, and Jack. After witnessing James getting bullied during lunchtime, they decided they had enough, and invited him to their table. After striking up a new friendship with James, the boys learned he was adopted from an orphanage in Colombia and, six years later, his father was killed in a bicycle accident.

Since James doesn’t have a father to throw a ball to him, the boys have been glad to take on that role.

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