Friends taking walk to benefit CHEFTrek across Sussex in support of public education
Friends Alex Albanese and Jake Buttery are going to take a walk, and not just around the block.
The 2012 University of Delaware graduates are planning a Saturday, Sept. 21 walk across Sussex County – nearly 36 miles from west to east – to raise funds for the Cape Henlopen Educational Foundation.
While raising funds is their main goal, it's not the only reason they plan to take the walk. “We want to raise awareness of the importance of public education in the state,” Albanese said. “This is a great community that has given so much to me. Now it's time for me to give something back.”
Both of the young men said they benefitted greatly from public education.
CHEF is a nonprofit, volunteer organization dedicated to providing support for teachers and students. Since 2006, CHEF has funded more than 120 teacher grant requests, granted 15 student scholarships and 12 student grants totaling more than $75,000.
The pair – who are both 23 years old – talked about the options students now have compared to just a few years ago when public school was the only option. “There is such a huge divide between public and private schools in Delaware. We would like to stimulate more attention on public schools,” Buttery said.
Albanese, a 2008 Cape grade, said they were inspired by a similar walk Jack Vassalotti did to benefit the Sussex Family YMCA. “We thought it would be cool to walk across the state in one day,” he said. Because of their involvement over the years with community activities, it didn't take them long to hit on the idea to add more meaning to their walk. “Obviously this is a physical challenge and we added a goal and message to it,” he said.
Although from the Philadelphia area, Buttery has a lot of friends in the Cape Region. “I'm like an outsider looking in, and I like what I see,” he said. “People here really care about their schools. We want this walk to be a rallying cry to spur even more community involvement in their schools.”
Buttery has extra incentive to get donations because the company he works for in Philadelphia, Vanguard, will match all money he raises.
Albanese said he knows firsthand how the community supports the schools as the recipient of a Lions Club scholarship as well as an outpouring of support he and his teammates were showered with when they won the 2006 and 2008 high school lacrosse state championships.
Albanese, whose mother Diane teaches at Mariner Middle School, has been meeting with students, teachers, friends and community members to spread the word about the Sept. 21 event.
They both have their sites set on service-oriented work over the next few years. Albanese, who is working as a substitute teacher in the Cape Henlopen district, wants to eventually enter the Peace Corps. Buttery wants to join Americorps and eventually become a lawyer. “I would like to use law as a tool for social change,” he said.
And how much training have they done? They plan to take at least a 15-mile hike before they embark on their cross-county trek. “Hey, we are 23 year olds,” joked Albanese.
To donate to their cause, go to gofundme.com/walking4brighterfutures or email Albanese at firstname.lastname@example.org.