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American Idols Past: Aiken Smacks Bullies, Aids Disabled

Claymates, cover your ears. I realize that this may be hard to believe, but Clay Aiken was not always the vicious and feared whirlwind of menace and melody that he is today. At one point in time he was even considered something of a WIMP.

Tomorrow on the Dr Phil show, the multi-platinum American Idol ’02 runner-up will discuss being ill-treated as a willowy youth. “He talks about his own experiences being bullied,” said RCA Records publicist Roger Widynowski, “verbally … throughout his whole school career. Mostly through elementary and junior high.”

“I don’t know that he was bullied so much as he was just ignored,” said Aiken’s mother Faye Parker. “So I don’t know. We’ll have to hear more about his story when he tells it on TV.” A little defensive are we mom?

Aiken has discussed the topic before. “The first two years of high school, I was shy. I got picked on for the way I was dressed. I had Coke-bottle glasses, and my hair was just atrocious,” he told Cosmo Girl.

He told Entertainment Weekly, “I actually started convincing myself that wedgies were compliments.” Very Taoist.

He also said that by his senior year of high school the road warrior we all know him to be began to emerge and he became somewhat popular at Raleigh, NC’s Leesville High School.

Okay, so I made up the road warrior stuff – he became somewhat popular because he could sing and the bullies were tired of picking on such an obvious target.

Last week do-gooder Aiken announced the first recipients of the Clay Aiken ABLE to SERVE grants, providing grants of up to $2,000 each to youth with disabilities for community service projects for National Youth Service Day, April 15-17.

“Conventional wisdom often looks upon youth with disabilities as a population to be served BY volunteers, instead of as a group that can serve AS volunteers,” he said. “The Bubel/Aiken Foundation and Youth Service America seek to change this misperception by engaging youth with disabilities to serve create and lead others in service projects on National Youth Service Day and every day of the year.”

The ABLE to SERVE awards included:

Aiken joined young people with intellectual disabilities and their Best Buddies to plant more than 40 six-foot tall palm trees and clean up a neighborhood in Hollywood, FL.

Special Olympics of Virginia teamed up with various clubs focused on civic engagement in Richmond Public Schools to implement and manage the Third Annual Urban Program Track & Field Meet at Huguenot High School.

Genuine Concern for Others teamed up with student bodies and community service clubs at three local high schools for a food drive to benefit the Santa Barbara Food Bank for National Youth Service Day.

The Best Buddies Chapter of Marion High School and Dr. Arthur F. Sullivan Middle School hosted a special dinner celebration honoring the elderly community members of Worchester, Massachusetts.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted, Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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