Tim Welch understands what it's like to be bullied.
The Blair resident was picked on for a variety of reasons as a child. After a train accident cost him his left arm and left leg during his freshman year of high school, the bullying intensified.
“They didn't understand. They had no clue what I was going through,” he said.
That's why Welch is spearheading an anti-bullying campaign to offer children a safe place to go when they are in need.
“So many times growing up I would go to school on one side of town and I lived on the other side of town and if I was being bullied I had no where to go,” he said.
Welch plans to partner with businesses to place a Mister Pumpkin logo in their windows to alert children that they would be safe at that business.
“They allow us to put the logo in the window on the understanding that if a child is in danger — or even an adult — that they could come in there under the idea that they can either call the police or their parents depending on the circumstances of the situation,” he said.
The logo features a smiling jack o'lantern-headed character created by illustrator and Blair resident Katie Simpson.
“I was trying to make it happy and inviting,” Welch said.
The initiative began as a way to continue the message of his anti-bullying book, “Unexpected Friends,” which was released last year with Simpson.
“When we did the book, we saw the impact that the book made on so many people,” Welch said. “I didn't want it to just stop.”
Welch said he's already received inquiries from businesses in Blair, Fremont, Omaha, Wahoo and Missouri Valley, Iowa, about placing the logos in their windows.
Welch is also partnering with a friend, who works for an Omaha radio station, and a professional athlete, who he doesn't yet want to name publicly. Welch plans to speak with students once schools allow visitors again.
“With COVID, it just put a hold on it,” he said.
Welch said he hopes the campaign will get the message out there that bullying isn't OK and there are people who can help.
“I don't think that people understand that words can hurt so much more than even physically hitting someone,” he said. “You can physically hit someone and those bruises will go away at some point in time, but those emotional scars, those live with you forever.”