Bridgewater boy suits up against bullies
Hannah Millen, Veritas Staff
Six-year-old Danny Keefe defied the odds at birth when he suffered a serious brain hemorrhage. Doctors did not think that Danny was going to reach big milestones such as walking and talking, but he worked hard to accomplish what he does today. Danny has an apraxia of speech due to the hemorrhage, but attends speech therapy and is determined to talk clearer.
He started to have problems in school when he was being bullied for talking the way he did and wearing a suit, tie and fedora hat each day. Danny’s mother noticed he was getting picked on when Danny would come into her room and cry. He was being pressured into talking by some kids so they could tease him about it, and sometimes they would take his hat off of his head and throw it into the air.
When 11-year-old Tommy Cooney heard about Danny being bullied from Danny’s older brother, Tim, he decided to do something about it. Cooney gathered the whole football team of 45 boys and got them all to dress up in a suit and tie in appreciation of Danny.
“It was really amazing to know a fifth grader was standing up for a kindergartener,” said Danny’s dad, Mark Keefe, “Usually you don’t see older kids sticking up for someone younger.”
“My uncle always wore it and it inspired me to wear it,” said Danny. His uncle,Joe Bean, who Danny claimed was “really rich” was always wearing a suit and tie which made Danny want to be more like him.
Cooney’s mother asked him if he was going to get picked on for wearing it and he said, “I don’t care. I want to be like Danny and show him I love him.”
Later on, the day was named “Danny Appreciation Day” (Nov. 20).
“We go on the same everyday. It did change for Danny a little bit though. Kids at school know who he is, some think he’s a cool kid and they don’t pick on him anymore.” “We sit down at night and say, ‘Did this really happen?’ We can’t believe it,” says Jennifer Keefe, Danny’s mother. “It’s so surreal thinking about it.”
Cooney said in an interview with WCVB News, a little teary-eyed, “We thought we would all come into school [dressed] like Danny and sponsor Danny to show Danny that we love him- that we love him very much.”
All of Danny’s teammates look out for him on and off the field and his parents are very proud. Danny and Cooney had an amazing surprise when Ellen DeGeneres invited the two and Danny’s mother on her show.
“It was amazing. When the story broke, people said it was amazing and would end up on Ellen, and then I got a call,” Jennifer Keefe says.
They came out cleanly-dressed with suits, ties, matching fedoras and the biggest smiles on their faces.
Ellen knew she had to have Danny and Cooney on the show for expressing one another’s bravery and leadership. The pair attended the show and told Ellen their story. They danced, laughed and each received a customized blue fedora, which was all leading up to the big surprise.
“I was really happy, it was cool, a lot of people talked to me,” Danny says. When Ellen told Danny and Cooney to look at the monitor, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had recorded a little message for the two.
In it, he encouraged Danny to, “keep wearing what makes you feel the best,” and “Tommy, I love your leadership and how you stood up for Danny.”
He also praised the football team by saying, “I applaud the Bridgewater Badgers for participating.”
Danny and Cooney were on the field before and after the game. “I went red, white, and blue. We did the Superman,” he says.
Brady gave Danny and Cooney tickets to one of the Patriots games and he felt that the team needed to be rewarded as well, so Bob Kraft, Patriots owner, decided to give all of them tickets to the Patriots Hall of Fame.
This all happened because a boy stood up for what he believed in and behind him was a whole team supporting his decisions. Danny taught his community a lesson that some people will never forget. He took a stand against the bullies and did not let them bring him down and for that he was rewarded.
Knowing that kids get picked on all of the time, Danny has some words of advice for people, “If you see someone getting picked on, tell them to stop.”