A Missouri middle schooler was so determined to make it to his graduation, he ended up walking 6 miles.
Losing out on an opportunity for a ride there, 8th-grader Xavier Jones asked his friend and brother to walk along with him, remembering something a mentor at Yeatman Middle School had told him.
“‘If I want it, I got to go get it,’” Jones told Fox News, remembering the advice. Together, the young men walked over 10,000 steps and two-and-a-half hours through St. Louis to arrive at the school.
As it happened, when the 14-year-old arrived at the graduation, the purveyor of that advice, mentor Darren Seals, was speaking at the ceremony. Hearing that one of his students had walked two hours to be there, he paused to inform the audience.
“I had to stop my speech and call him on board and was like, ‘Hey, everybody get off your feet and give him a standing ovation,’” Mr. Seals also told Fox. “They clapped for him. They were like, ‘Woah, this boy walked.’”
Also as it happened, the President of Harris-Stowe State University, Dr. Latonia Collins Smith was in attendance that day, and was moved by the perseverance and determination shown by young Mr. Jones.
She decided to offer him a “ride” to college, although considering the circumstances, this terminology confused Jones. Mr. Seals recounts the conversation.
“She said, ‘You got a full ride,’ and I said [to Xavier], ‘Do you know what that means,’ and he said, ‘They’re going to give me a ride to school?’” Seals said. “I was like, ‘No, you’re getting a ride to college. He said, ‘Wait a minute, I don’t have to pay for college. Then it started hitting him.”
Fox reports that Dr. Smith offered the young man the Presidential scholarship, complete with tuition and money for four years of attendance including rent and textbooks.
That’s not the end of the story however, because over the weekend, it came out that Miami Dolphins NFL player Terron Armstead, who grew up in a similar part of town to Xavier, had bought his family a minivan, and an electric bike to ensure transportation options are no longer a problem.
Moved by Xavier’s story, the NFL star said he was happy to step in and offer help to a boy who had lost his mother some years ago, and who was being raised by his grandfather.
“It’s humbling, it’s motivating, it’s inspiring,” Armstead said of Jones.
The story is a reminder to young people that even the most straightforward demonstrations of commitment are valuable, and more philosophically, that the journey of 1,000 miles really does begin with one step; though in this case, perhaps around 10,000.
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