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Bullied bus monitor stays 'regular old lady'

| Sunday, June 23, 2013, 10:12 p.m.
Former school bus monitor Karen Klein talks with a reporter at her home in Greece, N.Y., Wednesday, June 19, 2013. Now retired, Klein says she used $100,000 to seed the Karen Klein Anti-Bullying Foundation to promote kindness. (AP Photo/David Duprey)

GREECE, N.Y. — No new carpet or furniture for the home she's lived in for 46 years. No fancy car in the driveway.

After being gifted a life-changing sum after a school bus bullying episode seen around the world a year ago, former bus monitor Karen Klein says she really hasn't changed all that much.

Sure, the “Today” show mug she drinks coffee from reminds her of the widespread media attention her story brought, and the occasional stranger wants to snap her picture.

She's also retired, something the 69-year-old widow couldn't afford before.

But Klein, who drove a school bus for 20 years before spending three years as a monitor, remains as unassuming as she was before learning how the kindness of strangers can trump the cruelty of four adolescent boys.

“It's really amazing,” Klein said at her suburban Rochester home, still perplexed at the outpouring unleashed by a 10-minute cellphone video of her being ridiculed. The video, recorded by a student, was posted online.

When 25-year-old Canadian Max Sidorov was moved to take up an online collection to send her on vacation, more than 32,000 people from 84 countries responded — pledging $703,873 in donations.

“It's just the way it hits them, I guess. I don't know. I don't know,” Klein said, still unsure of why it all happened.

Sidorov has called it “ridiculously more than I expected.”

Klein used $100,000 as seed money for the Karen Klein Anti-Bullying Foundation, which has promoted its message of kindness at concerts and through books. “There's a lot I wish I could be doing, but I don't know how to do it,” Klein said. “I'm just a regular old lady,” she added with a laugh.

She has spent some helping family members and friends, and “the rest is under lock and key” for retirement, and maybe a motor home.

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