SOUTHAVEN, MS (WMC) - Turning grief into positive change is the mindset of two Southaven parents after the tragic loss of their 12-year-old son, who took his own life because of bullying.
It's now their mission to shine a light on bullying in schools and it's already getting the attention of some prominent figures.
"We need to find a way to stop bullying in school," Andy's mother Cheryl Hudson said.
It's a simple yet powerful mission for Cheryl. She wants to make sure no child is bullied or feels alone, especially after losing her son Andy Leach, who took his life because of relentless bullying.
"Change is needed, and we obviously have enough people here to let Andy's voice be heard," Andy's father Matthew Leach said.
Dozens of people showed up to support "Andy's Voice," a foundation that advocates suicide prevention and anti-bullying.
Everyone celebrated Andy's life, offered messages of hope and shared ways to prevent bullying.
"With the representatives that we have here, with the amount of people that we have here, the noise is getting louder for change in Mississippi and that's what we want to do," Matthew said.
DeSoto County District 7 State Representative Steve Hopkins is one of those representatives. He said he wants to propose a bill called "Andy's Law," that would create a special fund where all the money from state lotteries would go toward anti-bullying programs.
"That money would be one of the sole purposes of helping our schools, resource officers, counseling, training with anti-bullying programs," Hopkins said. "Everything that's available to address the situations in our schools today."
As Andy's parents and community start the journey to put a stop to bullying, they hope the message will spread far beyond DeSoto County.
"This is such a big deal, not just in DeSoto County but everywhere, and we need to start right here in our backyard and grow from there," Cheryl said.
Loved ones formally laid Andy to rest earlier Saturday and also held a vigil celebrating his life.