WHEATON, Ill. - High school seniors are receiving their diplomas across the Chicago area this week.
But one student in Wheaton got a surprise honor over the weekend for going above and beyond when it comes to helping others.
Jackson Moran, 18, raised more than $5,000 last year for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The community is considered the poorest area in the United States.
Last summer when the reservation was closed to outsiders due to the coronavirus pandemic, Moran raised more than $5,000 by biking 100 miles in a loop around his own neighborhood.
Last summer when the reservation was closed to outsiders, Jackson raised more than $5,000 by biking 100 miles in a loop around his neighborhood. Jackson called it his Ride to Nowhere.
The Ride to Nowhere was supported by donations from friends and family as well as the Wheaton community and through website donations. All of the money Moran raised was donated directly to Re-Member, an organization that partners with the Oglala Lakota people of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Throughout the year, Moran also collected various items such as books and toiletries to donate to the people on the reservation as additional support.
The Ride to Nowhere was supported by donations from friends and family as well as the Wheaton community and through website donations.
The Wheaton Warrenville South student has volunteered with Re-Member for the last five years. As part of his work, Moran spends two weeks on the reservation building outhouses, wheelchair ramps, bunk beds and skirting trailers. He also chops firewood for the winter and works in the community's garden to grow fresh produce.
While the reservation is expected to continue to be closed this summer due to COVID, Moran has been asked to return to continue his work.
With his parents, coaches, teachers and peers in attendance, Jackson was honored for making a difference on and off the field.
To recognize his efforts, Moran was honored by the Buddy's HELPERS organization, a nonprofit. Moran received a check to donate to his favorite charity, two tickets to watch his favorite Chicago sports team this summer and a surprise give from Samsung to help him continue his efforts.
Moran earned all-academic honors all four years of high school and will attend the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in the fall to study mechanical engineering.