Zach Bonner, Now a Director, Ends 2,478-Mile Walk
Next week, Zach Bonner, 12, will begin filming a mini-documentary about the cause near to his heart: ending homelessness for the estimated 1.3 million young people living without shelter in America.
"I'm really excited," Bonner told AOL News on Monday, speaking by phone from Santa Monica, Calif., the day before his latest walk came to an end. The tireless tween advocate was already looking forward to getting back on the road with the documentary project.
"When we stop it's just like, I wish I were out there doing something," he said. "It's like when we're on the walk some days you wish you were back home and then when you're at home you wish you were out there doing something."
Bonner began his walk in late March, starting in his hometown of Tampa, Fla., and walking several hours a day to raise awareness and perform outreach projects along the way with youth.
"It's probably one of my favorite parts of the walk," he said, "getting to meet different people and getting to know different programs."
Projects along the March Across America route, which stopped in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, included a concert with Lady Gaga and taking young people shopping at Target to buy school supplies and clothing.
There was also a trip to Six Flags and meals at Chuck E. Cheese as well as special events with Build-a-Bear Workshop, which, along with Philanthropy Project, Outback, McDonald's and K12 Education, sponsored Zach's walk. Other sponsors included the Office Depot Foundation.
Helping Zach make his directorial debut will be his mother, Laurie Bonner, and JetBlue airlines, which provided a 30-day all-you-can-fly pass through a contest co-sponsored by DoSomething.org.
"Zach was selected because we saw real potential to grow his awareness campaign for homeless youth March Across America" with the pass, Megan Anhalt of DoSomething said via e-mail.
"His documentary and other efforts will help bring much attention and awareness for the growing youth homeless population in the U.S., and DoSomething.org and JetBlue are thrilled to be supporting Zach's efforts."
Five young people received All You Can Jet passes through the DoSomething contest, which asked young people ages 13 to 25 to submit their social action programs explaining how they would use a free air travel pass from JetBlue to further the impact of their project or organization.
"We love that our All You Can Jet pass continues to inspire adventure and creativity and are thrilled to work with our partners at DoSomething.org to help provide an opportunity for some exceptional youth a chance to rock social change," Icema Gibbs, JetBlue's director of corporate social responsibility, said in a statement.
Filming a documentary will add a meta-twist on Zach's remarkable tale of youthful activism, as his own life is currently being made into a feature film. David Anspaugh, whose previous credits include "Hoosiers" and "Rudy," is directing the film, which stars Chandler Canterbury as Zach and is titled "Little Red Wagon" after the first vehicle Bonner used for social action.
The real-life Bonner says he hopes his documentary will tell a different story about the various profiles of young people affected by homelessness. He intends to visit a number of cities including Phoenix; New York City; Greenville, N.C.; San Francisco; and Washington, D.C.
Not surprisingly, Zach said youth seem to open up to other young people in a manner different than with older people.
"We have noticed that kids are more willing to talk to another kid than they are to open up to an adult," Zach said.
"One of the reasons that they are more willing to open up and tell their story to a kid their age," he added, "is that they've been failed so many times by so many adults -- their parents, or whatever."