- Associated Press - Monday, November 28, 2016

PERU, Ill. (AP) - The family of a Marine pilot who was killed during training in 2011 is working to build a track at a Benedictine high school about 100 miles southwest of Chicago.

St. Bede Academy graduate Thomas Heitmann was planning a campaign to build a track at his alma mater when he was killed in a helicopter training accident, in 2011, while stationed in Pensacola, Florida, the Chicago Tribune (https://trib.in/2fJ2odL ) reported.

His family has continued his efforts, but still needs $250,000 of its $600,000 goal to finish the project. Heitmann’s sister Rachel Christensen said the family has raised $100,000, and St. Bede agreed to donate 7 acres of land a few months ago.

“We are kind of stuck at the moment,” Christensen said. “We just need that extra push to get us to the finish.”

Heitmann’s father Tom Heitmann believes the goal will be met in time.

“When it’s all completed,” said Tom Heitmann, “we will be able to stand there in front of everybody and say, ‘Yes, if you put your mind to it and your heart to it, dreams will come true.’”

Currently, St. Bede Academy, which is located in farm fields about 90 miles southwest of Chicago, does not have a track.

In high school, Heitmann trained for his meets in the school’s parking lot. However, regardless of the circumstances of his training Heitmann still earned medals in state high school track and field championships for two consecutive years.

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Information from: Chicago Tribune, https://www.chicagotribune.com

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