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Len Mattiace visits local middle school to speak out against bullying

April 18, 2018


Len Mattiace was bullied.

The “sissy” sport he played, the golf shirts and dress pants he wore, the haircut he had – in the sixth in seventh grades, in particular, the reason was unfortunately less the story than the result.   

“It was literally every day,” Mattiace said. “Fortunately, I wasn’t really affected by it. I just kind of…handled it, but a lot of kids don’t. Back then, I was one of the lucky ones.”

Today, Mattiace, now 50 and a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR, is working actively to take luck out of the equation.

A PGA TOUR Champions professional and Jacksonville native and resident, Mattiace on Wednesday visited Landrum Middle School to speak out against bullying. As part of each tournament he now travels to, Mattiace plans visits to local schools to talk to a group of students. They discuss what they can do to not only bring attention to bullying, but what they, as students, can do to eliminate it.

“If I truly want to put my time into causes, what better way than something that has affected myself? Affected my daughter?” Mattiace said. “If we can minimize this problem to the best of our abilities, or better yet, get rid of it completely, our communities are going to be so much better off. That’s what, as parents, we all want. It hits home.”

For Mattiace, the visit to Landrum, in particular, hits home in more ways than one.

“I grew up right across the street,” he said. “It’s the school I literally asked to speak to. …I was there. I was one of those kids.

“So, it’s a little stronger connection, but the message is the same. The hope is the kids sign the ‘Stand for the Silent’ pledge, that everybody at Landrum gets behind it. Then, hopefully the kids live it. It becomes part of them.”

Stand for the Silent was started in 2010 by a group of high school students in Oklahoma City, Okla., after they heard the story of Kirk and Laura Smalley’s son, Ty Field-Smalley. At 11 years-old, Ty took his own life after being suspended from school for retaliating against a bully that had been bullying him for over two years.

Kirk and Laura Smalley have traveled to over 1,000 schools and spoken with over 1,000,000 kids. This information and more is available on the Stand for the Silent website,

The Stand for the Silent campaign and anti-bullying, in general, are something that Mattiace has no plans to stop advocating for any time soon. Anti-Bullying Day, as declared by the United Nations in 2012, is May 4.

“It’s personal and we can do something about it,” Mattiace said. “If you get enough kids going, ‘Hey, bullying isn’t cool,’ we can change the mindset of the whole school environment."

Photo courtesy of Len Mattiace.

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