Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, walk with students of Carthage Augustinian Academy during their third annual walk-a-thon June 14 at Carthage Park. Soldiers helped set up the event, provided road guards and ate lunch with the students.

FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Bri-gade Combat Team, volunteered to help Carthage Augustinian Academy students participate in a walk-a-thon June 14 in the village.
The day began with an approximate one-mile walk from the aca-demy to the Carthage Park. Sol- diers walked with students and teachers and provided safety for the walk.

After opening remarks from Sister Annunciata Collins, principal of Carthage Augustinian Academy, Soldiers and students took their places and the walk-a-thon began.

This was the school’s third annual walk-a-thon. The event’s main purpose was to raise money for the school and to give the children time to meet Soldiers.

Soldiers marked lap cards, helped to prepare lunch and encouraged the children to continue completing laps, said Suzanne McKernan, a parent volunteer.

McKernan said she started the event three years ago with her husband, Lt. Col. Dennis McKernan, who is currently deployed to Af- ghanistan.

“We could not do this without the Soldiers,” McKernan said. “They bring an energy that no one else can bring.”

She noted that about 50 percent of the students are part of military Families, and a lot of their parents are deployed.

“It means a lot to us. The Soldiers are such great role models for the kids. They are so professional and really good with the kids. We couldn’t ask for anything more,” she said. “I want to thank the 2-14 Soldiers for coming. We could not have done this without their support and help.”

After the walk-a-thon, Soldiers ate lunch with the children and played with them in the park.
Pvt. Jonathan C. Steen, a volunteer from C Company, 2-14 Infantry, said he was very glad he volunteered, and he will again any time he is afforded the opportunity.

“Today was great. The kids look up to us as role models. I was walking with two (of them), and they made me laugh the whole time,” Steen said.

The school’s principal was very appreciative of the Soldiers’ participation.

“It was a joy having Soldiers here with us today, to spend time with people we pray for every day,” Collins said. “We had guys with us for whom we pray all the time.

“We felt safe getting across the roads,” she continued. “We knew we would have help (with) keeping things organized, because Soldiers were there to help watch the children and keep them safe.”

Soldiers who took part in the effort said they enjoyed volunteering their time.

“Today was an honor to be able to come out here and to give back to the community. It means a lot to us as Soldiers,” said Staff Sgt. Harlan J. Terry, a volunteer from C Company, 2-14 Infantry. “Today showed that Soldiers love to get out and do things with the community. We really enjoy these interactions with the surrounding communities.”

After lunch, five students who raised $500 or more “pied” teachers in the face with shaving cream pies.

Students then walked back to the school with their Soldier escorts. After arriving at the school, the Soldiers went around to each classroom and said goodbye to the students.

“The Soldiers were extremely kind and loving and gave the children a day to remember,” Collins said.

Page last updated Thu June 30th, 2011 at 15:10