Gabe & Izzy Reviews & Recommendations

Gabe Ford is an inspiring speaker about anti-bullying and school violence for classes, school assemblies and youth conferences. She offers an amazing personal story of her own trials with school bullying. If you have been inspired by Gabe's incredible story and would like to share your recommendation, please contact us.

October 20, 2007

To whom it may concern,

Gabe and her best friend Izzy came to our school, Barre Town Middle and Elementary School, in Barre, Vermont, on May 17, 2007 to give a presentation for our 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students. This assembly was the result of a student-led project wherein a group of 7th and 8th grade students, through a community service project, decided to invite a speaker to give a presentation on this very valuable topic. After much research, Gabe and Izzy were selected due to their real-life account of bullying and harassment.

As a result of this presentation, and the lessons that were created by the community service group, there has been a buzz amongst the middle school students regarding Gabe and Izzy. Students and teachers alike have commented on the value of the experience of having such a vital, effervescent speaker with the type of poignant message that stops people in their tracks and makes them evaluate their daily decisions. The message that one makes a choice to bully is one that emanates through our school today, and has become common vernacular for teachers to use when faced with a bullying situation.

In addition to being a vibrant speaker, Gabe took the time to speak with much of our 5th - 8th grade students on a personal level. Despite the long, arduous day, Gabe visited most of the 7th and 8th grade classrooms, following the second of her two presentations on the day, to speak with the students in small groups. Though it seemed unlikely, following her presentations, that Gabe could make a greater impact, her ability to speak individually with students, and answer difficult, personal questions about her life and message of "No School Bullying" made the experience even more valuable and long-lasting.

We have had many speakers in the past come into our school here in Barre, Vermont and give speeches on a number of topics, but the overall consensus of the staff and students was that Gabe and Izzy were their favorite. Their message is simple, but effective - "No School Bullying" - bullying hurts everyone involved - bullying is a problem that does not need to exist, and - bullying is a choice. That message, thanks to Gabe and Izzy, will hopefully reverberate through our school for many years to come.

With great appreciation,

Ry Hoffman
School Counselor Grades 5 - 8
Barre Town Middle and Elementary School

August 16, 2007

Linda Whiteman, Gabe & Izzy

My name is Linda Whiteman and I am a teacher at South Vermillion Middle School. Today I met Gabrielle and life is changed. In my 30 years of teaching, I have never been as inspired as I was today by anyone. I will cherish the picture my school took of Gabe, Izzy and me. It will remind me of what real strength and determination is all about. Gabe is a truly remarkable young woman, and I know, as a mother, how very proud and blessed you are to have her for your daughter.

Thank you all for coming to my school to share her story and message to our students. I wish the best for your future endeavors.

Linda Whiteman
South Vermillion Middle School
Clinton, IN

June 6, 2006

I am more than delighted to recommend Gabe and Izzy and their presentation on bullying. After having viewed their Animal Planet video story, we were honored to have them take the time and effort to travel 10 hours to speak to the students in our very small, rural school district. Gabe and her mother Rhonda were very accommodating and gave us the same enthusiasm they give larger schools with more ample budgets.

When Gabe entered the room with Izzy at her side, the students and staff commented that they felt like an old friend just appeared. By this time, they had all seen their Animal Planet video and felt like they knew Gabe and Izzy. They were also stunned by Gabe’s beauty. For the first time in their lives, many students realized that someone can be both beautiful and disabled. They gave her a loud hand as a welcome, but when Gabe began to speak, the room went instantly and completely silent. As the host of the presentation, I had the opportunity to see the students’ faces as she spoke. I looked particularly at students whom I knew had bullied in the past. I have never seen so many students so wide-eyed and attentive. It was remarkable. Gabe spoke to them not as a celebrity with a wild and humorous show, but as a person and a friend. She spoke from her heart and the students knew she cared about each of them.

Even more powerful than the effect she had the day she spoke, was the aftermath for several weeks of victims coming forward reporting bullying and expressing the pain they had experienced silently for years. Gabe and Izzy gave them a voice for the first time in their lives. In letters the students wrote to Gabe, they expressed their sincere appreciation for her compassion and assistance with their plight. Many of them said that the bullying they experienced stopped after her visit.

I cannot express enough gratitude to Gabe and Izzy for the message they brought to our students. From here on, when students are involved in bullying, both students and staff will be asking them “What would Gabe and Izzy think of what you’re doing?” That question will forever bring awareness to all students about hurtful behavior.

With sincere gratitude and humbleness,

Maria Gambaro, PhD.
Guidance Counselor
Rio School District
Rio, WI

January 30, 2006

Dear Gabe and Izzy,

Thank you for sharing your difficult journey and your uplifting and encouraging attitude with our students at Fenton Intermediate School. It was an honor to meet you and Izzy. I know that the students were moved by the message you shared.

As you know, we are hitting the bully issue hard in our school. Your presentation was a contrast to many that rely on theatrics to get the point across. Your message was pure and simple and from your heart. That realism is refreshing and the voice it gives to the message is powerful. Keep up the good work.

Thanks again for sharing with us.

Tamara Hall
FIS Counselor
Fenton Intermediate School

October 23, 2005

I’m pleased to offer a letter of recommendation for Gabrielle Ford, as a Youth Motivational Speaker, speaking out against School Bullying. Lansing Middle School in Lansing, NY had the pleasure of hosting “Gabe and Izzy” for a school assembly in May of 2005. Our Lansing School District was in the process of implementing a district-wide and community-wide program entitled, “CASS” for Creating A Safe School. In the Spring of 2005, we planned a day-long retreat for our 115 seventh graders. The plan was to incorporate our trained CASS high school mentors to work with the seventh graders around topics related to all types of school bullying. The afternoon was set as a fun, team-building, field day. Our planning committee of school faculty and student parents knew we needed a unique speaker to kick-off the day, to get our seventh graders in the proper mindset for this day, and to touch our students’ hearts. When we found Gabe and Izzy’s website and realized Gabe’s purpose of speaking against School Bullying, as well as her personal history, we were quite sure that we found out keynote speaker!

After making the contact with Gabe’s mother, Rhonda Hillman, we were impressed with Rhonda’s enthusiasm and Gabe and Rhonda’s willingness to accommodate our needs. Very quickly, Gabe and Izzy were booked to speak, not only to our seventh graders but to the entire Lansing Middle School for a morning assembly. They also agreed to join us for our seventh grade retreat. During the assembly, many students and teachers sat mesmerized listening to Gabe tell her story while Izzy relaxed on the stage with adorable red bows on her ears. Some “tough guys” and many others were reported as having tears in their eyes as Gabe told about her sad experiences being bullied in school and withdrawing from life due to the bullying. Gabe also briefly explained the types of bullying and the need to speak up and ask for help when being bullied. These were messages that we were also sharing through our CASS program and they were being affirmed by this beautiful young woman and her loyal companion at a very teachable moment. The question and answer period told our planning committee that we made the right choice. Many questions repeated the messages that Gabe had shared, messages that were the basis for our retreat.

Our CASS retreat was off-site and Gabe and Izzy’s presence and involvement truly made the day. Each small group was welcomed to sit with our guests, pet Izzy, and ask questions throughout the day. Both Gabe and her mother, Rhonda, spoke to the entire seventh grade class at the closing session, praising the school and the community’s combined efforts in creating a safe school. Victims were encouraged to seek help and everyone was encouraged to act with kindness and be aware of the long-term effects of bullying. As I write about the day almost five months later, I recall the praise that I have heard recently about this seventh grade class, now in eighth grade. Multiple eighth grade faculty have mentioned how pleasant this new class is. A student, when questioned, agreed that the visit from Gabe and Izzy probably had something to do with her classmate’s heightened awareness to the feelings of others.

As a Youth Development professional, a mother of a current eighth and tenth grader, and an active volunteer in support of Lansing Central School’s CASS program, I am so grateful to have Gabe and Izzy connected with our community. I believe we were all inspired to find this amazing pair spreading such an important message against school bullying from Lansing, NY to Lansing, MI and many other points beyond.

Kimberly F. Fleming
Lansing Central School Volunteer
Co-chair of Lansing Middle School’s 2005 Seventh Grade CASS Retreat