Dacula schools hold 'Walk to Baghdad' to support troops

DACULA - The distance from Dacula to Baghdad is about 6,752 miles. Driving that far could take five straight days with no sleep or breaks - the kind of trip that would have kids asking, "Are we there yet?" a record number of times.

But kids at Dacula Elementary and Dacula Middle schools don't mind walking the more than 6,000 miles, as long as they can split it between them. This week, the schools are having a "Walk to Baghdad" to give their students some exercise, a sense of perspective, and to raise money for Georgia's troops in Iraq.

"They're doing something just knowing that they're doing it to show our commitment for our troops worldwide," said Bob Tucker, the physical education teacher who organized the event at Dacula Elementary.

During their P.E. classes on Friday, Monday and today, each of the students at Dacula Elementary are walking eight laps around the field, the equivalent of two miles. They got involved in the project through Dacula Middle School, which is having its walk on Friday. The idea was a way of supporting Dacula teacher Roy Marchert. He is in Iraq serving in Georgia's 48th Brigade.

As part of the walk, the schools accepted donations and sold T-shirts to help raise money for the troops.

Darby Coy, who has children at both schools, said her son was very excited about the prospect of walking the equivalent distance to Baghdad.

"I thought it was a great show of community support for the group from Georgia, as well as the Dacula troops stationed there," Coy said.

As they completed each lap, a volunteer handed the kids a popsicle stick to help them keep track of their lap number. At the end of their P.E. classes, some of them proudly held as many as 12 sticks.

"What I like about it is how its actually you walking laps, and you try not to stop," said 8-year-old Logan Nugent.

Those students who walked more than necessary were given sew-on badges of American flags, all of which were backwards. Tucker explained that because they were sent over from the military and signified the way a flag waves in the wind.

Vietnam veteran Scott Romesburg now volunteers every day at Dacula Elementary, where he has a grandson. He said that as a soldier he was exposed to a lot of anti-war sentiment and was pleased to see the children participating in this during wartime.

"I hope a lot of them realize what this means for the troops in Baghdad and the whole country," Romesburg said. "When word of events like this gets out there, it really picks up morale."

Many of the students were panting and sweating by the end of their eight laps on Tuesday. But they also seemed to be enjoying themselves, skipping a little as they walked, jogged and ran their two miles.

"I like it because you just get to have fun and roam free," said Cameron Camarata, 8. "And it feels like I'm helping them get another step to walk to Baghdad."