INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- Indianapolis Colts cheerleaders recently came to Western High School in Russiaville after the school won a blood drive sponsored by the team. The day of celebration ended with a racist post that a lot of people are still talking about.
A photo from the event posted by a student went viral. In the caption of the photo, the N-word was used in reference to one of the cheerleaders, Leanna.
Leanna sat down with FOX59's Fanchon Stinger to discuss the incident and to try to turn this into a teachable moment all can learn from.
She recalled what went went through her mind when she saw it: "I was like gosh... please tell me this is not real. And I just wanted it to go away."
When the reality set in, so did the hurt and she remembered what her parents always taught her.
"There's some hurt but I really have to commend my parents or the way they raised me the prepared me for this. Despite how people treat you, you're to always treat others with kindness and love," said Leanna.
Leanna says the young man apologized, and it's thanks to her faith that she was able to not feel angry.
"This is act of ignorance and he's a kid and he made a mistake and I don't think it was personal. It was in my nature to just forgive him and pray for him and pray for everybody who was hurt by it," she said.
Leanna says she has been inundated with cards messages, flowers and so much love. She says thank you to everyone who reached out to her.
The message she hopes the community takes away from this?
"Find forgiveness and treat others the way you would want to be treated. Stop trying to fight hate with hate, start trying to fight it with love," she said.
Western Schools Superintendent Randy McCracken issued the following statement:
"We were made aware of the racist post (Wednesday) evening. This type of behavior is extremely offensive, unacceptable and disgraceful, and will not be tolerated at Western School Corporation. I apologize profusely on behalf of the school corporation and can promise this matter will be addressed immediately. There is no excuse for this type of behavior."
The Indianapolis Colts released this statement:
"We acknowledge the young man`s apology and take him at his word that he has learned that thoughtless and hurtful acts can have severe consequences."