News & ToursMay 12, 2015

Former stutterer Tiger Woods writes letter to young boy being bullied

This is a story that writes itself. All I have to do is brush away the tears and type.

Let me start by saying thank you to Sophie Gustafson and Tiger Woods for having kind hearts.

And let me follow that with a word of admiration for my new friend Dillon who, like Sophie, struggles with a stutter and, being a teenager, the hurtful taunts of classmates who bullied him.

A week ago Sophie, who has been mentoring Dillon, told me the cruelty of other children had driven Dillon to attempting suicide. I wrote that story, not using Dillon's name at the time, and mentioned that he is a huge Tiger Woods fan.

Related: Gustafson takes a stand against bullying

Immediately I heard from the Woods camp asking for the boy's address. Then, on Sunday, I got this text message from Sophie:

"Tiger sent Dillon a letter and told him he also stuttered when he was younger," Sophie wrote. "He's ecstatic. We did good Ron."

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Sophie did good. Tiger did good. I did my job. I gather information and tell stories.

And this story needed to be told. Bullying of people -- children and adults -- who are different in any way is a serious problem that must be addressed. Here's Tiger's letter:

That Tiger responded so quickly was the act of not only someone who knew taunting when he was a child -- both because of his stutter and his race -- but it was also the act of a father of two who understands how we need to protect our children.

"It was real class to get that out so fast," Sophie said about Tiger sending the letter immediately.

She got that right.

And you want to hear about some more class -- and maybe shed a tear or two? Let me share with you the email from Dillon:

"Thank you for having your friend share my story. Please thank him for me. I really appreciate all the support and help you are giving me. My mom and I saw all the support on twitter. I know that I have a lot of support thru this challenging time. I just want to fit in. I just want to find true friends who will accept me and not make fun of me when I talk. It gets so frustrating when you have things to say and people just don't give you a chance to get it out."

Then Dillon added this:

"On Saturday, I got a letter from Tiger! He told me that he used to stutter too. We are going to frame the letter. We have never seen a golf tournament in person, only on TV. I told my mom that when my leg gets better (he fractured his leg in his suicide attempt) I think that would be a fun thing to do."

And then, showing that he gets that this story is bigger than just him, Dillon said:

"I hope that maybe one other person out there that is also having struggles, will hear my story and realize suicide is not the answer and maybe it can help them. I just acted on impulse and now wish that I hadn't. I was just tired of feeling small and like I didn't matter. I know that I do matter with the help of my family and friends like you to support me. So thank you and please thank Ron. You are a really great person."

Related: How Gustafson overcame her stutter

Later we received an email from Dillon's mother.

"Dillon has made copies of the story and passed it out at his Day Treatment program, hoping that it will help another kid," Angie wrote. "I honestly can say, that there are no words that I could ever use to thank you Sophie."

Let me try these words:

Thanks Tiger and Sophie for showing the true heart of golf. Thanks Angie for being a great Mom. And thanks Dillon for not only being brave, but also acting as a leader of others in your situation.

And thanks to all of you out there who responded in such a positive way in such overwhelming numbers to let Dillon -- and others like him -- know they are not alone. Bullying is a battle we can win.

Follow @ronsirak