Schools March for Victims

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Because of the brutal attack that nine-year-old Cabrini-Green resident Girl X suffered, Chicago Public Schools officials decided to hold a march recently to raise money to help students and staff members that have been affected by violence.

The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Foundation held its first walkathon in Grant Park on Aug.16 to raise money for the Crisis Support Fund.

THE WALK AND THE PARTICIPANTS

The walkathon was basically a 2 ½ mile walk around the perimeter of Grant Park that began at 9 a.m. Because it was early Saturday, I didn’t expect as many people as there were. To my amazement, there were many participants representing many schools across the city. In fact, some participants were also there representing the Chicago Board of Education itself, with its many departments. Here are just a few of the many participants: Englewood Technical Preparatory Academy, Cockrell CPC, CVS High School, Kenwood Academy, Nettlehorst Elementary, Parkside Academy, the Montefiore Special School, The Arab American Council-Alnmhajireen Mosque & School, Parents As Teachers First, and the Park Eddy Foundation. That’s just a few!

On route, the Percy L. Julian High School’s marching band greeted the walkers with some fabulous sounds.

THE VOLUNTEERS

There were volunteers stationed in various parts of the park. Some volunteers, like the ones from Robert Morris College’s Soaring Eagles club, served the thirsty walkers water as they walked with their banners in hand, while others (traffic marshals) guided the enthusiastic walkers on the right path to their final destination. Upon arrival, the walkers were encouraged by Avis Lavelle, a Board of Trustees member, saying, “A job well done, we made it!”

There were booths stationed within the park for many purposes. Some were serving the hungry walkers lunches. In other booths, the volunteers were handing out raffled T-shirts, caps, backpacks and tickets to certain restaurants. There was also a registration and a booth for a local TV station.

THE RALLY

After the walk, a rally was held. Two high school students and a second grader as well as other selected people read poems, talked about the coming school year and said how pleased they were with the outcome of the walk and what the walk meant to them. CPS Chief Paul Vallas was among the speakers and received a $5,000 check presented to him by Anil Shama, president of the Association of Indians in America, and his associates, who also invited the walkers to join them at their booth after the rally for some Indian food, music, free T-shirts and caps in celebration of their 50th Independence Day.

After all the speeches and congratulations, Mary Nell of 950 AM, a hip hop/rap radio station, announced the entertainment of the day, the Chicago Cheerleaders, the Percy L. Julian High School Marching Band and others.

The event ended at 12 p.m.

THE CRISIS SUPPORT FUND

The Crisis Support Fund is part of the Children First Fund. It was created after “Girl X” was brutally raped in January 1997. The Fund is designed to provide emergency financial support to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students and staff who are victims of crime and violence in their time of need.

THE CHILDREN FIRST FUND

The Chicago Public Schools Foundation is an independent non-profit corporation that was first established in July 1996. Within its corporation is the Children First Fund. The Fund’s primary objectives are “to supplement, assist and aid the Chicago Public School district in its pursuit of excellence by providing funds for identified needs and programs.”

For further information about the Crisis Support Fund or about the Children First Fund, call the “Children First Fund” hot line at: 773-535-8672.

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