[Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET]
All bullied bus monitor Karen Klein wanted was an apology. Now she's getting that … and then some.
Police say the four boys who tormented the 68-year-old on a school bus in upstate New York earlier this week have taken responsibility for their actions. The students are also saying they're sorry.
"I feel really bad about what I did," one said in a statement to CNN. "I wish I had never done those things. If that had happened to someone in my family, like my mother or grandmother, I would be really mad at the people who did that to them."
Another said, "When I saw the video I was disgusted and could not believe I did that. I am sorry for being so mean, and I will never treat anyone this way again."
The video of the seventh-graders cursing, taunting and physically threatening a crying Klein has become a rallying point against bullying. It has also prompted an overwhelming outpouring of support for the longtime school bus worker.
An online campaign to fund a vacation for Klein had grown to more than $500,000 by Friday afternoon, far surpassing the initial $5,000 goal. Max Sidorov, the Toronto man who started the fund two days ago, said he did so partly because he was bullied himself as a child.
"Maybe we can send her on a great, early retirement," Sidorov told The Associated Press.
Then Anderson Cooper surprised the grandmother of eight on CNN Thursday night with an all-expenses paid trip for nine people to Disneyland from Southwest Airlines. The Walt Disney Co. made the same offer for Disney World.
"I want to thank everybody for so much kindness," Klein told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
But not all of the reaction has been positive. School officials in Greece, N.Y., and the boys who bullied Klein have received a barrage of threatening messages. Police stepped up patrols near the teens' homes.
"We have a cellphone of one of the boys, and he's received more than 1,000 missed calls and more than 1,000 text messages threatening him," Capt. Steve Chatteron said. "Threats to overcome threats do no good."
Klein, who asked police not to charge the boys, issued a plea for the madness to end.
"I feel kinda bad for them and their families because of what's going on," she said. "They're being harassed terribly, and I don't like that. I don't want any harm to come to them."
Humbling words given the week she's had.
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