“Yes, I’m very excited,” said the Antioch fourth-grader. “I’ll be able to build leadership skills and meet new friends from around the world.”
Antonio was nominated for the program by teacher Jacquie Waldron of Cornerstone Christian School for his scholastic merit, leadership potential and exemplary citizenship. He’ll be joined on the weeklong trip by 340 kids from around the world as part of the People to People Ambassador Program.
Heidi Aguirre, Antonio’s teacher at Cornerstone Christian, couldn’t say enough good things about him. “He is a wonderful young man,” Aguirre said. “Amarion is an exceptional student, he is on the honor roll and he is very hard working, dependable, courteous and conscientious.”
The program, which was founded in 1956 by President Dwight Eisenhower, aims to bridge cultural and political borders through education and exchange, creating global citizens and making the world a better place for future generations.
The trip will bring together kids as young as Antonio and as old as high school seniors to teach them about U.S. history, government and politics through speeches and visits to historic sites.
“My wife and I are definitely proud,” said Amarion’s father, Alan Antonio. “Not only does he participate in a lot of sports; he also understands that education is important. He is really doing well, and we are excited.”
In addition to witnessing the oath of office and inaugural address on the National Mall, participants will hear from Eisenhower’s granddaughter, Mary; Kenneth Duberstein, who served as President Ronald Reagan’s White House chief of staff; and Ken Walsh, U.S. News and World Report’s chief White House correspondent.
They’ll also visit the Smithsonian Institute, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and the Library of Congress.
Before Antonio can punch his ticket to the nation’s capital, he must raise $2,700, but it didn’t take him long to find some help – thanks to his extra-curricular activities. Besides being an honor roll student every quarter since he started school, Antonio is an accomplished athlete. He traveled to Houston in August to compete in the Amateur Athletic Union National Junior Olympics.
NFL player Lorenzo Alexander has agreed to help Antonio pay for the trip through his Aces Foundation, which is a chapter of the National Alliance of African American Athletes.
Former Olympian Kenny Harrison has also agreed to help pay for the trip. Antonio has been helping his own cause by collecting and turning in recyclables for cash.
“The process of how to reach that goal, how to work with different people to do a fundraiser and then be able to come back to the community and share what he learned will be beneficial,” Alan said. “Maybe he’ll inspire some other kids to do the same.”
Antonio is still seeking funds to pay for the trip. To donate, call Alan at 925-325-2526.