On a warm spring evening, inside the crowded emergency room waiting area of Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, Long Island, a family entered the room. The man, an individual with special needs sits down with his parents, opposite three young people.

As time passed, the young trio began to loudly mock and harass the man. Laughter echoed, and hurtful words filled the air, causing a deep sense of embarrassment to wash over the family’s faces. For ten long minutes, they endured the hurtful taunts until finally deciding to retreat to a quieter corner of the waiting room, hoping to escape the torment.

Among the onlookers was Joe Salamone who couldn’t shake the feeling of familiarity with the pain that the man and his parents endured. It reminded him of his own past experiences of being mistreated. A surge of anger and disgust welled up within him, but Joe knew that reacting aggressively wouldn’t solve anything.

In a moment of clarity, Joe realized that channeling his anger into something positive could make a difference. He pondered on how to create a world where people could cope with such situations effectively and, more importantly, prevent them from happening altogether.

Fueled by the determination to bring about change, Joe teamed up with seven like-minded and strong-willed individuals. Together, they formed The Long Island Coalition Against Bullying, an organization dedicated to combatting bullying in all its forms and fostering empathy, understanding, and acceptance within the community.

Inspired by the events of that fateful night, the coalition’s journey began, and their impact on Long Island’s communities continues to grow, one act of kindness and one stand against bullying at a time.