Keaton Jones never expected Captain America to help him stand up to bullies.
The Tennessee middle school student sat down with CBS' Knoxville, Tennessee, affiliate WVLT Local 8 News on Monday, where he opened up about the support he has received from celebs and the public at large after a video he shared about what it feels like to be bullied went viral.
"Chris Evans," Keaton answered when asked whose response has meant the most. "Most definitely, I love Captain America, and to know I have Captain America on my side, that is amazing."
Evans, who plays the comic book hero, invited Keaton and his mom to the premiere of next year's Avengers movie, tweeting, "Stay strong, Keaton. Don’t let them make you turn cold. I promise it gets better. While those punks at your school are deciding what kind of people they want to be in this world, how would you and your mom like to come to the Avengers premiere in LA next year?"
"I wanted to spread the word of bullying and how it makes people feel that are impacted by it," Keaton said of why he decided to let his mom post the video. Asked if he predicted how big it would become, he answered, "No, I did not."
Keaton also opened up more candidly about the kind of bullying he says he's been subjected to since elementary school.
"I've been bullied most of my life. It really hit drastically in third grade and it's been awful ever since then," he said. "They call me mean, horrendous names, like all kinds of awful things. They say nobody likes me, they make fun of my nose, my scars, they've poured milk on me and poured ham down my clothes, thrown bread at me."
"It makes you feel like you're right under anyone else that bullies you and makes you feel sick and not appreciated by anyone," he added. "I don't like going back and thinking about it 'cause it was just awful. It made me feel awful about myself. Made me feel like I was nobody, I was a nobody."
Keaton said that while he was scared to come forward about the bullying for fear of making it worse, he found some support in school from one of his teachers, as well as from his family.
"My first-period teacher has been amazing, she’s let me know that if anyone picks on me, they have to go through her. She’s amazing," he shared. "I know that I love my family and that's all that matters ... They have been very supportive and been there whenever I needed them."
"Why do you take someone who is innocent that has never done anything to you, and make them feel like they don't belong?" Keaton said of what he'd ask bullies. "Because we're all human, were all the same."
Union County Director of Schools Jimmy Carter issued a statement regarding his bullying video.
"To fulfill our mission of educating all children in Union County Public Schools, we must provide an academic environment that is safe, civil and supportive. We do not tolerate bullying and have a policy in place that addresses conduct taking place on school grounds, at any school-sponsored activity, on school-provided transportation or at any official school bus stop," the statement read. "With any incident of bullying that is reported to our administrators, we follow the process of our policy and immediately investigate the alleged incidents. The privacy of all parties and witnesses to complaints will be respected in accordance with federal and state law."