Community joins together to fight back against abuse


john kost

Members of Blair County Rising Against Child Abuse stood outside the public board meeting Tuesday.

Julian Bartlebaugh, Editor In Chief

In light of recent events, Bellwood community members have joined together to create a non-profit called Blair County Rising Against Child Abuse.

The group has a Facebook public group with 239 members. It was created February 29, 2020 by Will Zacker, a graduate from Bellwood in 1997.

The community has expressed its frustrations with the sexual abuse allegations of Ryan Blazier, the former junior high wrestling coach being accused of abusing children, some on the BAHS-MS campus. Within the group, many people are sharing their thoughts and feelings about the whole situation. The group has also shared multiple times the petition for superintendent Dr. Thomas McInroy to resign, which was presented at a board meeting Tuesday night.

The group says it has three main guidelines: Don’t discuss or speculate the identity of the victims; no talk of violence or retaliation against anyone; and the group has no leader, “we are one.”

At this week’s board meeting, members of the community and the Facebook group attended looking for answers. The meeting was tense and attendees could feel the sense of anguish in the room. After the meeting concluded members of the group took to a peaceful protest.  Zacker, Amy Lyn, and other members of the group stood outside the elementary school with signs expressing their thoughts.

One member of the group who is an alumnus of Bellwood and wishes to remain anonymous, has three children in the district. The person praised the community but chastised the district for its handling of the allegations against Blazier.

John Kost
Members of the group expressed their thoughts and ideas to BluePrint staff.

“Everyone wants to live in Bellwood, because Bellwood is such a nice community. Just look at how we have come together in the recent times, and the students coming together for mini-THON. The school has no transparency, everything is being swept under the rug. It is all based on names.”

In the spotlight of the recent community events, the group’s main focus is on the Blazier allegations. The non-profit organization will expand their outreach to all of Blair County in an effort to make a change.

Within the group people post updates on the situations as well as what the community is doing. One advocate in the group Rochelle Simpson posted updates to the group on the recent board meeting.

“We must press on. We must get justice for the victims and ensure that our children have the right people in charge to protect them while they are in school,” said Rochelle

In the face of a tragedy like this, it is hard for some to walk out of the darkness. The Bellwood-Antis community has been resilient in the recent weeks following the Jason Lynn case, and the Ryan Blazier allegations. The community has joined together to create something bigger than just Bellwood. This is for all of Blair County. This is for all who have been effected by abuse.