A school in Richton Park, Ill. went the extra mile for a fallen soldier -- more than 5,000 times.
Army Staff Sgt. David Nowaczyk, 32 was killed in April following an attack by a roadside bomb while on patrol in the Kunar Province in Afghanistan. His sister, Megan Smart, teaches sixth grade at Sauk Elementary.
To honor the fallen hero, students walked around the school's play lot and kept track of the miles they covered. Five times around equaled one mile, representing the extra mile they say Nowaczyk went for his community and his country.
"You could look out the window or walk outside and see classrooms walking around the track, running around the track," Sauk principal Michael Bauer said. "Some classrooms did two, three miles a day."
School officials, members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 311, and members of Nowaczyk's family gathered Wednesday, the 68th anniversary of D-Day, to commemorate Nowaczyk's sacrifice. Sauk Elementary presented the family with a certificate, signed by the school's 470 students and 30 faculty and staff members, demonstrating the 5,125 miles walked in Nowaczyk's memory.
Smart's sixth graders also planted a tree in Nowaczyk's honor, to symbolize his roots in the community, something his family says they appreciate.
"It was nice to see his memory still be carrying on," she said. "It brought a smile to my face during a time I really needed it."
Nowaczyk left behind a wife, daughter, and stepson.