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The Scholastic Kids Press Corps is a team of about 50 Kid Reporters around the nation.  The interactive site brings daily news to life with reporting for kids, by kids.

Not Kidding Around

11-year-old Colton Lockner is serious about Freedom Walks

By Kayleigh Bondor | September 2 , 2008
11-year-old Colton Lockner (left) with Kid Reporter Kayleigh Bondor. (Photo courtesy Kayleigh Bondor)
11-year-old Colton Lockner (left) with Kid Reporter Kayleigh Bondor. (Photo courtesy Kayleigh Bondor)

On a bright Sunday afternoon, I caught up with 11-year old Colton Lockner in Sebring, Ohio. Colton is an exceptional kid because of how he chose to support our country and its people.

Colton Lockner was only 9 years old when he read about America Supports You Freedom Walks. He learned that these walks are set up to remember the people lost in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and to honor the first responders as well. Colton felt that this was a very commendable event, and he decided that he wanted to host a walk for his school.

"My uncle Brian was in Iraq at the time, and I thought of him and the other troops, and I wanted them all to come home safe," Colton says. "I wanted people to remember the terrorist attacks that happened on 9/11."

"At first, the Freedom Walk was only going to be a school thing. My principal said my idea was actually very good, and [he said] that I should go to the mayor of Sebring. I did, and he said I should have the Freedom Walk as a town thing." And so Sebring's first Freedom Walk was born. With help from his mother, Colton set out to raise funds and set up all the details. Pizza Hut was a sponsor.

They expected to attract 75 people, tops, to the first Freedom Walk. They ended up drawing about 2,000. Many of these walkers came for personal reasons and had very close ties to the victims/soldiers affected by the terrorist attacks. Some sought closure, and others just wanted to support their troops. Whatever the reason, all agreed that Colton had done a very amazing thing. "I feel very happy that people like to remember and that they like to come and support our men and women," Colton says.

In 2007, another annual America Supports You Freedom Walk was set up by Colton in Sebring, and this walk was recognized as one of the most successful of 2007. "I think the publicity [we receive] is good because people know where to come and honor the military men and women; past and present," Colton says. "[They can] remember the terrorist attacks of September 11th."

This year Colton has set up three walks. They will be held in Lake Milton, Sebring, and Canton; all are cities in Ohio. "I set up one for Canton because my other friend Rick wants me to help organize his [walk] over there," Colton says. "I am having the one in Sebring because I wanted to keep my hometown involved, and I also wanted my new hometown [Lake Milton] to have the experience of the Freedom Walks bringing the town together."

This year, Nashville Star winner Jesse Galchick, who is from Ohio, will provide entertainment for the Lake Milton and Sebring walks. "She contacted us after seeing us in the newspaper and asked if she could sing for our first Freedom Walk," Colton says. "We ended up getting her for our second Freedom Walk. And now she just sings for us whenever we can get her."

The Poker Run, where I interviewed Colton, "raises money to buy t-shirts that people receive when they walk," Colton says. "We also have a corn hole tournament that is coming up on September 7. I [also] take cans into businesses and gain permission to leave them there so people can put donations into them for our walks."

There is no denying that Colton Lockner is an exceptional kid. At 11 years old, he's organizing many events throughout the state of Ohio. That's a task that some adults might find tough.

"The adults in my life are really proud of me, and they tell me to keep it up," Colton says.

Read more about Freedom Walks in the America Supports You Freedom Walks Special Report!

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