Best of America

Zachary Bonner: Walking Miles for Kids In Need

Zachary Bonner: Walking Miles for Kids In Need© 2011 Win McNamee/Getty Images

Our hero: Zachary Bonner, 13

Where he lives: Valrico, Florida

Who he helps: Little Red Wagon Foundation

While many young people were enjoying the final weeks of summer vacation, Zachary Bonner was working his hardest. According to the St. Petersburg Times, Zach started walking from Valrico, Florida, his hometown, on Christmas, 2009, and stepped over the Los Angeles city line nine months later in September, racking up a total of 2,478 miles and raising close to $120,000 for kids in need. Along the way, Zach attended school online, thanks to his mother, Laurie Bonner, and brother and sister, who alternated walking and driving alongside him. Among Zach’s sponsors: AOL, McDonald’s, and the Office Depot Foundation.

Despite his age, Zach has a long history of helping others. When Hurricane Charley hit town in 2004, Zach, then six, pulled a wagon through his neighborhood collecting food for storm victims. Since then, he has raised some $400,000 for his tax-exempt Little Red Wagon Foundation, which gives money to projects aiding homeless and troubled children. In 2007, Zach began walking to support a children’s charity in Tampa, Florida, finishing his journey 23 days later, 280 miles away in Tallahassee. Then in the summer of 2009, he trekked about 670 miles from Atlanta to Washington, D.C., in just two months. “What really keeps me going [is] these kids,” Zach has said. “They don’t get to say, ‘I’m tired of being homeless.’ So why should I get to quit?”

Know a local hero? Visit American Towns to submit your nomination: americantowns.com/powerofone.

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