In January, an 11-year-old boy attempted to take his own life after he was ruthlessly bullied over his love of My Little Pony.
While Michael Morones remains in hospital with suspected brain damage, a wave of support is gathering for him – in the form of hundreds of men and women choosing to have tattoos of the pretty little horses he so loved, thus turning a sign of ridicule to one of defiance.
One tattoo artist is so determined to help, he is donating the proceeds of all of the My Little Pony tattoos he inks to Michael's recovery.
Darin Owens, manager and tattoo artist at DSI Customs Tattoo Shop in Lake Charles, Louisiana, told HuffPost UK: "I've worked with bullied kids for years in alternative schools so this just feels natural to me.
"We're going to do this until we make a difference... forever if need be. It's so sad that someone has to belittle another person just to feel better about themselves."
Incredibly, Owens tells us the studio has inked over 1,000 My Little Pony tattoos and has raised over $70,000 in donations towards Michael's care.
And its not just the growing contingent of teenage and adult male fans known as “bronies” who are opting for the ink.
He revealed: "We tattooed a whole family of seven the second day into it. It's just amazing - moms, dads, grandparents. It's simply amazing."
Owens became involved after he was contacted by Tony Wayne of of Imperial Tattoo Company in Sugarland, Texas, who announced a similar drive for the month of February.
Wayne told HuffPost UK: "I started this because I wanted to help reach children who have been bullied or bully other children. I saw Michael's story and this was the way we saw to help, I never expected it to get so big."
Wayne, along with his staff Jake Lee, Jesus Mata, Jon West, Lesly and wife Sarah have already donated $2,000 to the Michael Morones foundation within the month-long drive and expect to give more once the final figures are in.
Brony Jamie Keenan tells us: "Michael obviously believed we live in a world where he should be able to be who he wanted to be. The innocence of youth is often a far better image of maturity than any adult is capable of. This small group of bullies tried to prove him wrong but now the Brony community are trying to prove him right.
"I'm just one person, I can't give a general comment for the whole community, and that's the beauty of it. It's a community of individuals, talented individuals. Michael Morones was one of those talented individuals, I'm sure of that, and he was bullied for that. For being honest. The only thing I can say for certain is that the Brony community wishes him nothing but the best."
Michael's mother Tiffany Morones-Suttle told ABC her son had complained: "Mum, I'm tired of people being mean to me, I'm tired of people calling me gay, I'm tired of people telling me I'm ugly, that I'm stupid."
Chicago Now published this statement from Michael's family earlier this month: "The doctors still don't know what he will be capable of since his brain has a long way to go, but thanks to each and everyone of you out there sending love, positive thoughts and prayers, Michael is experiencing an evolving miracle of healing."
Get well soon, Michael.
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