Parents know that growing up can be hard at times, and they worry about their kids as a result. But these particular parents were justifiably stressed out about their son’s first day in high school, and they vented their concerns on Facebook. Then, as if in answer to their prayers, an unlikely group of people stepped in to help.
Of course, starting a new school is scary for anyone. “Will I fit in?” or “Will people like me?” are common questions for worried kids moving to a new area or making that huge step up to high school. Heck, some adults still fret about this kind of thing when they start a new job.
So naturally parents worry about how their kids will be accepted. After all, they’ve been there themselves and know only too well how hard it can be. And this can be especially true for kids who stand out from their peers or who are markedly different.
This was certainly the case for Sean Maehrer – even though he was, in fact, excited about his first day of high school. The Allentown, Pennsylvania, teen was due to start his new school on September 1, 2015, and his parents were genuinely concerned about their son being accepted.
That’s because Maehrer is different from other kids. And it’s perhaps because of his differences that he was unaware of how he might be treated differently by other students. Why? Because Maehrer has Down syndrome.
Consequently, Maehrer’s mom was worried about the possibility that kids would single out her son because he was different. Worse, would they bully him because of his learning difficulties? And she was arguably right to be worried; high school wouldn’t, after all, be the easiest environment for him to thrive in.
However, Maehrer didn’t just stand out because his physical appearance was different to that of his peers. Nor was it merely due to his speech impediment. No, he’d also have more difficulty in keeping up with his schoolwork because of his Down syndrome.
A happy and outgoing boy, Maehrer himself would probably have been blissfully unaware of any foreseen problems. But that didn’t stop his mom worrying, and she voiced her concerns on social media.
Yes, as his first day drew closer, Maehrer’s mom took to Facebook to write about potential bullying. What should she do? Could anyone advise her on how to handle it? Could anyone help him? Well, as it turned out, his mom’s post drew unexpected attention.
Incredibly, on the morning of September 1 – Maehrer’s first day of high school – an almighty roar of engines headed up the street toward the family home. As neighbors nervously stepped outside to see what was going on, dozens of bikers arrived right in front of the Maehrer house.
Several nearby motorcycle groups had heard about the Facebook post and rallied together to pay the Maehrers a visit. Moreover, within just a couple of days they’d gathered in their dozens to spread their own message – which nobody was likely to forget in a hurry.
In scenes that might have echoed FX’s Sons of Anarchy, this quiet suburban street had been awoken by a swarm of mean-looking bikers. And while Sons of Anarchy is fiction, this real-world biker gang, with their leather jackets and tattoos, would have looked incredibly intimidating to Allentown residents.
However, this particular group of bikers couldn’t be further from that stereotype. Yes, while the gang undeniably look typecast in the visual sense, these guys actually have hearts of gold. In fact, they’re infamous for completing charity rides as well as offering their support to veterans and America’s police force.
And prominent within this unique biking group were the Nam Knights. Operating 53 chapters in 12 states, the Knights were founded in 1989 by some Vietnam veterans-turned-police officers who loved to ride Harleys. And they now stand with hundreds of members with similar backgrounds.
The Nam Knights originally formed in New Jersey under the leadership of now-retired Undersheriff of the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department, Jack Quigley. Quigley has said that he wanted to recapture the same camaraderie he felt with other soldiers while they served in Vietnam.
And after seeing Maehrer’s mom’s Facebook post, the bikers had come together within 48 hours to provide a very memorable escort to the teenager on his first day of high school. Their goal was to make other students think twice before messing with their new friend.
After pulling up outside the Maehrer house, then, they presented the teen with his very own tailor-made helmet. What’s more, in a show of strength and unity, they made sure Maehrer was the coolest kid in class by riding him right up to the school gates.
Tellingly, Maehrer’s parents were so overcome with emotion at the gesture that they couldn’t even speak. However, they did pull themselves together for long enough to thank everyone involved for the heartfelt and selfless act of kindness that had so helped their son.
Mind you, the biker group’s support for Maehrer didn’t end on his first day of school. The gang returned to the school less than a month later to cheer the teenager on in his first soccer game. It would seem that the bikers took a real shine to the happy teen and will have his back for the foreseeable future.
Maehrer earned so much more than top dog honors of being the coolest kid in school that day. Yes, no one would have dreamed of teasing him in school – but, more than that, he had a day that he will never forget, made friends for life and got the ultimate protection squad.