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Belleville Helping Belleville Service Day

Walk for Character Honors Historic Inauguration

The Second Annual Walk for Character had plenty of characters Tuesday.

Several hundred people walked from Belleville City Hall to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in a show of support for Belleville Achieves Strength in Character (BASIC), a program that provides help in developing character in the greater Belleville area.

Organizers were excited by how many people turned out to walk.

"It was thrilling to see how many people were stretched out walking down the street. It was a strong statement for our community," said Jim Schneider, city representative to BASIC.

About 100 walkers, including students from the Governor French Academy in downtown Belleville, left City Hall at 10 a.m. They were joined en route by several hundred more people from St. Elizabeth's Hospital.

The walk route went from City Hall north to Main Street, then west to Third Street and south to the hospital.

There everyone posed for a large group picture and then went into the hospital's Centennial Room to hear from Kevin Shrake, president and chief executive officer of St. Elizabeth's, Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert and Schneider.


The walk was sponsored by Belleville AmeriCorps, Belleville Main Street Inc. and St. Elizabeth's.

It also commemorated the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama.

Eckert welcomed the people who participated.

"In these challenging times, we must continue to strengthen and to help each other," he said. "That is the way we get stronger, working together."

Shrake said St. Elizabeth's is an eager participant in the character program.

"St. Elizabeth's wants to be an important part of keeping the quality of life," he said.The Belleville West Maroon Majik chorus sang "Let There Be Peace on Earth," with the crowd joining in on the last chorus.

As the leaders spoke, many eyes were on the large screen behind them which was showing the inauguration. The television cameras kept a close eye on Obama and so did the crowd.

After Obama took the oath, the room exploded in applause as it seemed did all the televised gatherings that were shown. There were even a few tears shed in pride and excitement.

Taking in all that happened on the walk and at the U.S. Capitol, Shrake said, "This is an incredibly exciting day."

Have a column idea? Call Wally at 239-2506 or 800-642-3878; or e-mail: wspiers@bnd.com

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