Kroell, London begin 921-mile trek to raise awareness of bullying prevention

Sat. October 5, 2013 12:56 PM by Anthony Morgano

elliot london and ronnie kroell (right) depart chicago

Ronnie Kroell and Elliot London walk as part of National Bullying Prevention Month

Chicago, IL - Ronnie Kroell and Elliot London, co-founders of the Friend Movement, embarked Saturday morning on a 921-mile walk from Chicago to New York City over a period of 37 days to raise awareness for increased bullying prevention efforts across the country.

Accompanied by a camera crew, the confident, excited and nervous duo began their nearly 1,000 mile walk from the famous Bean in Millenium Park with plans to arrive in New York on Sunday, Nov. 10. Today they hope to accomplish 45 miles before resting tonight.

"Silence and inaction are just not an option anymore," Kroell, a 30-year-old fashion model and actor, best known for appearing on season one of Bravo's "Make Me A Supermodel," said of the effort. Kroell was born and raised in Chicago and now lives in Los Angeles.

London is an Australian-born filmmaker who last year received acclaim for his short, pro-marriage equality film titled "The Wedding Dance."

Kroell and London were introduced by a mutual friend and mutually hit it off, both wanting to respond to a recent increase in bullying and teen suicide. Friend Movement was born in July of 2012 "to dream, to create and to inspire our communities to promote and encourage friendship as a proactive response to the issue of bullying."

"Instead of having an anti-bullying conversation, we decided to start a conversation of pro-friendship," Kroell told "It is important to the Friend Movement team to be on the ground, gathering and sharing stories and empowering youth and adults alike to overcome fear."

This year, Friend Movement collaborated with Bianca Kosoy, Ryan Forbes, Jewely Bennett and Robert Patin to launch their very successful and edgy photo campaign called "The New F Word - Giving Bullying The Bird." Hollywood celebrities like Tim Gunn, Adam Lambert, Carmen Electra, Lance Bass, Rachel Dratch, Rumer Willis and more donated their faces and middle fingers to the campaign that Kroell said teaches "it's okay to be angry, but it's how we channel that anger into positive action that makes all the difference."

Friend Movement also hosted a benefit concert this July celebrating music and friendship that featured headliner LeAnne Rimes at Los Angeles' El Rey Theater. London is also in pre-production for "Friend," a feature film that will explore the issues of bullying, suicide and friendship.

The Friend Movement Walk is inspired by the tragic and nationally recognized suicide of 18-year-old Rutger's student Tyler Clementi, who jumped off the George Washington Bridge in New York City as a result of the anti-gay bullying he faced. Now three years later, Kroell and London are literally taking the streets to raise awareness and start discussions about how to end bullying with friendship.

The 37-day, 921-mile walk will see the duo, accompanied by a team of professional artists and producers, following the sideroads of America through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and ending in New York City. Along the way they plan to stop at schools, community centers and chambers of commerce along the route to meet with people and gather their stories. They will also be leaving purple ribbons along every mile of their route to honor Clementi's memory and those of anyone victimized or driven to suicide by bullying.

Friend Movement Walk is produced with collaboration from GLSEN, GLAAD and the Tyler Clementi Foundation. Tyler's older brother, openly gay activist James Clementi, and other Clementi family members, will be joining the duo at various times along their month-long trek, including for its culmination when they will walk across the George Washington Bridge, "a symbol of overcoming these challenges together as a community," Kroell and London told, before holding a candlelight vigil in New York City. 

"Friend Movement is more than just Elliot and myself, it has grown organically and exponentially thanks to the amazing people that have offered their dedication and donations," Kroell told "Bullying doesn't discriminate and neither do we, so we are inviting individuals from around the globe to participate in our walk in a few different ways."

In addition to following their walk via Facebook, Twitter and -- the duo plans to publish their journey weekly via blogs, videos and photos -- you can help Kroell and London raise their $19,420 goal with a donation to their indiegogo campaign. For a tax-deductible $20 donation, you'll receive a special Friend Movement watch and a postage-paid envelope with a purple ribbon inside to dedicate and send the New York City for the candlelight vigil. Funds raised will be used to cover the costs of travel, insurance, lodging, event production, filming the entire journey, etc., with any money raised beyond the goal being donated to the Tyler Clementi Foundation and Friend Movement.

Another way to support the Friend Movement is simply by changing your middle name on Facebook and Twitter to "FRIEND" to show solidarity with their cause.

"Everyone has something to gain by being a better friend, to themselves and to others around them," concluded Kroell.