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Bullying victim speaks out

Alissa Widman Neese • Feb 28, 2014 at 10:10 AM

When Adam Sand looks back on his year as a college athlete, he doesn’t recall fond memories.

His teammates brutally beat him. Some emotionally abused him. Others humiliated him.

And at least once, one almost killed him.

“I remember being taken from my room in the middle of the night, being blindfolded and driven out into a field,” Sand said. “They shot a gun at me, point blank, and the bullet whizzed past my face. I could feel the heat from it”

In another instance, teammates almost drowned Sand in a pool. They also circulated embarrassing pictures of him during class.

The agony culminated, and Sand reached his weakest moment.

One night, he stood on railroad tracks near his residence, waiting for a train to take his life and end the torture.

It never did.

“That was the only night it never came through,” Sand said. “I survived. There’s a reason why. I think it’s to share my story”

Until Wednesday, Sand, now 29, had only done so through written words.

Sand, a local author who grew up in the Cleveland area, spoke at a Sandusky Lions Club meeting Wednesday about his experiences as a victim of brutal hazing as a freshman member of Tiffin University’s football team.

The venture was his first public speaking event — but judging on its success, it likely won’t be his last.

“When I saw some people were crying, that was really touching to me,” Sand said. “I knew, at that point, that I was really getting my message across. It meant a lot”

The Register first interviewed Sand in October 2012, when he was still completing his debut book about his experiences, titled “Hazing: Through a Victim’s Eyes”

He’s now working on his second book — with a working title “#bulliessuck” — and hopes to soon launch a public speakingcampaign at area schools and other public venues. His other aspirations include creating a non-profit organization in support of antibullying efforts and partnering with the Cleveland Browns to promote his book and speak about its topics in a larger setting.

His goal: To increase awareness of bullying, which impacts students of all ages and inspire change.

Sand isn’t ashamed to admit he’s emotionally scarred from the hazing he experienced in 2003.

He suppressed the gruesome memories until 2009 — five years after the persistent torment and abuse caused him to flunkout of college.

Now he wants to ensure no other students endure the pain he did. And if they’re currently victims, he wants them to know they’re never alone.

“If you know someone who’s being bullied, send them my way,” Sand said. “I consider them all my friends, and I plan on helping them get through this”

Penny Williams, the Sandusky Lions Club’s third vice president and program coordinator, decided to bring Sand’s timely message to her club’s members. The pair met at a downtown Art Walk and are now close friends.

The topic was certainly wellreceived, she said.

One Lions Club member spoke about witnessing hazing and bullying situations during college, including one encounter which ultimately led to a student’s death. The situations he experienced weren’t too different from what’s still happening today, he said.

“That was around 1960,” he said. “Today, this problem still isn’t fixed, and it should be”

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