'Riley Rocks' share inspiration in the face of bullying


BROWNSBURG, Ind. (WTHR) — You may have heard the expression "Riley Rocks" recently. An effort to paint and hide stones with uplifting messages all in the name of a very special girl in Brownsburg.

"Riley your focus needs to go here," Riley's stepfather Mike Tarak stated pointing toward our television camera.

Riley is a vivacious 12 year old with a caring personality.

"Riley Rocks. Riley Rocks. Greenwood," Riley Newton read from a rock she was holding.

So why is her name plastered on rocks all over central Indiana? It all started with a moment no parent ever wants to deal with.

"I didn't feel like I wanted to live anymore because of the bullying. They hurt me pretty bad. It wasn't nice and guys I am sorry for trying to kill myself," Riley shared with the innocence of youth.

"It was the night after mothers day and I know it will be a day I will never forget," Riley's mother Rachel told us while recalling the day her child tried, unsuccessfully, to take her own life.

"It was really a rally cry for awareness I guess. A 12-year-old kid with special needs who has issues at school," Mike Tarak added.

From that dark moment came a ray of light.

Now sitting in their kitchen in Franklin they are looking at the rocks people have left for her.

"Hope. There is hope in everybody," Riley read from another rock.

Rocks that have literally lifted the weight from this family's shoulders and opened up a new level of communication between a child and the parents who nearly lost her.

"I read the messages and it immediately brought tears to me. We are just a small family. We work hard. How do so many people know about us," Rachel Tarak wondered aloud.

But they do. In fact the rocks have surfaced in Greenwood, Franklin, Brownsburg, Lebanon and from as far away as Pennsylvania and Florida all encouraging her to stay strong. People find them take their pictures holding them and post them on websites like this Facebook group in Brownsburg and then re-hide them for someone else to find.

"Faith hope and love are the words the summarize everything... in a rock. A simple concept that just means so much," Rachel continued.

Those rocks have also boosted Riley's confidence which became clearly evident when Rachel said the incident made her question herself. Made her feel like a failing parent.

"Quit saying that you failed me. You did not fail me. So quit saying that you did. You need to shut up about failing because when I say shut up it means I care about you. I know you do. I don't want you to say you failed me. You know why? It's not nice and please don't cry in front of the cameraman," Riley pleaded.

So these rocks have literally made this family stronger. Their journey provides a lesson for every parent.

"Stay strong. Riley rocks," Riley reads the inscription on yet another rock.

A lot has changed in the last month.

"I am glad I am still here," Riley says.

"We are too," her mother adds. "I am important. God made me. Just to be the way I am," Riley concludes.

Clearly Riley has found her rock.