CHICAGO (CBS) — Nearly 70 west suburban high school students walked from their school in Aurora to Soldier Field this week, as an act of solidarity with a former child soldier whose autobiography they read.
East Aurora High School teacher Shane Gillespie teaches a “Survivor Literature” course and this year, one it included “A Long Way Gone,” the memoirs of child soldier Ishmael Beah of Sierre Leone.
Beah was forced to be a government soldier when he was 13 years old and would be forced to walk miles and miles each day without shoes.
On Wednesday, students walked from East Aurora High School to Soldier Field to try to feel, in some small way, a connection with what Beah went through.
Gillespie says, “Walking is a very solitary thing and even though we had a big group, there was a lot of introspection going on.”
East Aurora senior Kendall McCarter was one of seven students who walked the entire 37 1/2 miles without taking a break in one of the vans that accompanied the group. He felt he had to.
“I felt like, if I gave up, I was nothing; like I couldn’t complete the journey that he had to go through several times”, McCarter says. “I felt really bad for him. We had shoes, and nice equipment, and were well-prepared for it; and it was still very, very hard.”
The walk raised 65-hundred dollars which will help cover the cost of Ismael Beah’s visit to East Aurora High School in a couple of weeks.