With each step of his nearly 50-mile journey from North Illinois University to North Central College, Bruce Wild remembers his son, as during his “Walk for Shaun.”
“I always think of him in a positive way because he was one of the most positive people I’ve ever known and I don’t want to let him down,” said Bruce.
Shaun Wild attended and played football at both institutions. After graduating from NCC, he became a teacher at Spring Brook Elementary School, but his life was taken from him in 2012 when he was killed at a downtown Naperville bar.
This weekend Shaun’s father embarked on a walk from DeKalb to Naperville. The main mission of the walk was to raise money for the National Compassion Fund, a nonprofit that helps other victims of violent crimes and their families.
“I wanted to have an event to go around, not just asking for donations, but saying, ‘Ok, he’s willing to pay it forward by putting one foot in front of the other for 47 miles,’ and maybe people would be inspired by that,” he said.
Other family members and Shaun’s friends certainly were inspired, joining Bruce along his journey, including classmate at North Central College Steve Hlavac.
“It’s crazy when you think about from NIU’s stadium all the way to North Central,” said Hlavac. “It says a lot about his determination to make people aware of what people like Bruce and Jami & other victims of violent crimes go through.”
“It’s all the support from others that prop us up, family friends. They let us know that they care and they’ve been great & that’s part of the reason that I’m here today,” said Bruce. “To show other families that they have support, people who care and love them out here and willing to step forward for them.”
The walk for Shaun started Friday and ended just after noon today, with Bruce’s wife Jami waiting for him with open arms. The two then stepped foot on Benedetti-Wherli Stadium’s football field, where their son had spent many nights as the team’s kicker. Seven year’s after his death, it’s still bittersweet when this family from Brown Deer, Wisconsin, comes to Naperville, Illinois.
“It’s painful,” said Jami Wild. “It’s surreal but it also reminds of us of a wonderful time in his life, when he became a man and developed lifelong friendships with families that loved him and love us, but it is hard to come back.”
“We love him and miss him and he gave us a positive nature and so that’s what we cling to,” said Bruce.
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