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Students raise money for veteran Tony Chobanov

Max Svienty

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Hersey honored veteran Tony Chobanov during the winter assembly on Dec. 16.

According to, “Tony suffers with TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) along with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Tony’s multiple diagnoses have made it extremely difficult to maintain a job outside of his home.” The veterans that Hersey has honored in the past have had visible injuries like amputated limbs, but all of Tony’s injuries are invisible, they are all brain injuries.

This school got involved with Soldier’s Journey Home with the help of English teacher Jim Miks. “I met Jason Smith [the first veteran Hersey honored] at a Northwestern game where they honored him, they were wanting to build a house for him, and I thought this is a great thing for students,” Hersey has had a strong involvement with veterans and welcoming them home since Miks met Smith.

“I think Hersey comes from a long history of service, and soldiers journey home fits in well with that,” Miks said.

Students and staff raised money and awareness for Chobanov and PTSD through multiple events such as the 22 push-up challenge, the gingerbuild, and putting up paper bricks in the front entrance. “The 22 push-up challenge is because 22 soldiers take their lives due to PTSD everyday and we do 22 push-ups to symbolize that,” physical education teacher Riccardo Di Vito said.

According to, “Students in PE classes are helping to raise awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder suffered by military veterans as part of the month-long campaign to support A Soldier’s Journey Home homebuilding initiative.”

Another way students got involved with raising money was the gingerbuild. “They get a team of four and build gingerbread houses for soldiers and all the money raised goes to soldiers,” Di Vito said. Teams of four paid twenty dollars for a gingerbread kit, but they were also able to bring other supplies from home.

“I really like it because it supports our troops that protect us and give us freedoms and it is a way to repay them,” freshman Ayden Albright said. In total staff and students raised $16,000 to help build Tony a house.

“What a great opportunity to do justice, to give soldiers what they deserve, and rally our community in a patriotic way and show our soldiers they are welcomed,” Miks said.

In reference to possible gingerbuilds in the future, “Bring your own supplies and bring hot glue,” Albright said.

“If a kid has a good idea come and see me and we can do it. We need to keep kid interested and involved, and it is great when students come up with ideas and help formulate some of this stuff,” Miks said. Miks hopes to continue to find more fun ways to get students involved with honoring soldiers in the future.

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The student news site of John Hersey High School
Students raise money for veteran Tony Chobanov