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Sergeant Eric Morante inspires students

Kayleigh Padar

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•Trent Sprague

ASJH Recipient Eric Morante walks in to the Carter Gym while holding a Houston Astros World Series Champions Flag.

Sergeant Eric Morante, from A Soldier’s Journey Home (ASJH) explored the district today to visit the students who have raised $17,000 to build him a house.

“Hersey students have built a rich tradition. This is the fourth project. I would say that Hersey kids will go off into the world better prepared to welcome veterans home,” English teacher and fund coordinator Jim Miks said.

Throughout the day, Morante and volunteers from ASJH visited students in classrooms to see the work that they’ve been doing for the house, for example, at Rolling Meadows high school, Morante saw the walls students are building.

Here, Morante had lunch with students heavily involved in fundraising, showed Foods students a “Morante Recipe,” and attended a dedication ceremony for the new sculpture by the front entrance.

“I think Eric Morante is inspiring because he’s done a lot of cool things and overcame a lot of struggles,” senior Lily Buchen said.

Morante also gave a speech in the theater for students, telling his story and giving advice. He described what it was like to lose a leg and go through a period of depression. Most importantly, he explained what it meant to live with, “no limitations,” and how students could do the same thing.

“I just focused myself on what I needed to do to get where I wanted to be,” Morante said.

Doctors and specialists told Morante that he wouldn’t be able to do the things he loved after his injury. He was told that he would never be able to cook, box, scuba dive, or skydive. “From there, I started proving everyone wrong,” Morante said.

He went to culinary school and jumped out of a plane. He became the first marine amputee boxer, and a scuba diver instructor. “How did I do it? I wanted it more than anyone else,” Morante said.

Morante believes that if students can picture their futures, they will be able to get there. “If you can imagine it inside your mind, you’re gonna be able to achieve that,” Morante said.

Morante’s interactions with students today have inspired those close to him. “Yesterday, and today, I really felt what ‘no limitations’ means. Because of today, because of yesterday, because of you guys, instead of staying inside, I”ll go to the gym. I’ll be more proactive,” Morante’s friend said.

This is the fourth year our school has helped ASJH build a home for a veteran. In the past, we’ve raised money for sergeant Jason Smith, Lance Corporal Cody Evans, and sergeant Tony Chobanov.

Each year, students get involved in different ways, from running photo booths to designing t shirts to creating architecture plans, students are able to use their individual skills to help.

“People from all walks of life have come together to help with this. I’m proud to work at a school with students like you,” Miks said.

Students will be able to keep the memories of this fundraiser and the insight Morante shared after graduation. “The effort, the bricks, keep it with you, especially when times are tough. Don’t let yourself become cynical,” Miks said.

Morante’s new house will be built in San Antonio later in the year.

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