LEWISTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Days away from high school graduation, Dax Catalano has his whole life ahead of him. But that wasn't the outlook 17 months ago.
"I was pretty close to death," said Catalano. "I had a brain injury, a severed artery, and the blood was filling into my brain cavities."
Catalano had to undergo life-saving surgery to repair his broken skull and blood clot in his brain.
His mother, Maureen Catalano, remembers the moment she realized he might not make it.
"It was just a blur of sadness and despair," said Maureen Catalano. "Things that just kept running through my head was, 'What am I going to do? How do I make funeral arrangements for my child?'
"At that point, we didn't know absolutely anything."
What his parents did know was that Dax had been receiving threats from a cyberbully for months.
The messages started in January of 2011.
Dax had just started seeing a new girlfriend. He logged onto his Facebook page, and saw a message from someone he didn't know.
The person had a picture with a bandana over his mouth, and was holding a military-style knife in the air. The message he sent threatened to kick Dax's teeth out and cut off his hands.
Dax told the person he didn't want to fight -- that he didn't even know him -- but the messages persisted for two months.
"I was a 16-year-old kid. I thought I was old enough, more mature," said Dax. "I thought I could handle it on my own."
But he couldn't. Not when his cyberbully ambushed him and attacked him in the parking lot of the Lewiston mall in March 2011.
"My son Dax, he's my only son. I almost lost him that day," said Ron Catalano, remembering seeing his son in a hospital bed.
"I've seen what can happen with bullying, and when things go a little too far," said Ron.
Today, Dax has made a near-full recovery. He said he still suffers from headaches, has nightmares, and disrupted sleeping.
Emotionally, there's even more healing ahead.
Dax and his family are sharing his story and speaking out about bullying to help heal, gain closure, and help other bullying victims.
Dax will be a guest speaker at the "Bouncing Out Bullying" event on Friday, August 10 at Bath Middle School. The event starts at 6 p.m.
"I think it's going to be a real eye-opening experience for kids to hear about what this family's been through," said "Bouncing Out Bullying" organizer Jason Gibbons, who plays comedy basketball with the Harlem Superstars and works with the Maine Red Claws.
The event will also feature showtime basektball, martial arts, prizes, the 'Hometown Hero' awards presentation, a presentation from Steve Webster, the president of the Maine Association of Police, and a presentation from therapist and counselor who deals with bullying.
"If I can help other kids going through the same situation, to let them know that they're not alone," said Dax. "There are other people going through the same situation, and that they can talk about it. It's ok."
Experts say one of the biggest mistakes parents make is not taking bullying complaints seriously. Experts advise:
- Taking your child seriously. Reassure your child you believe him or her.
- Gather facts. Ask questions like: "Who did this?" "Has it happened before?" "Did an adult see it?"
- Make an action plan. Bullying often happens in unsupervised areas. Tell you children to be near others.
- Boost self confidence. Research shows that kids who appear to be more confident are less likely to be targets.
- Step in when needed. Talk to a parent, teacher, or the authorities.