A Polk County family and community group are pushing to see a critical sidewalk project completed. Their efforts are in memory of Enrique Hernandez, a Tenoroc High School student who was hit and killed by a car on his way to school nearly two years ago.
Family and friends of Enrique Hernandez want to keep his memory alive, while helping prevent other families from enduring tragedy. Their mission is to see a sidewalk project started along Old Dixie Highway extended all the way down to US 92.
"We have to protect the children, and that's what this is about right here," said Daniel Barajas, director of the group Young American Dreamers.
On what would've been Hernandez's 20th birthday, his loved ones gathered to plead their case. They're hopeful Polk County will finally commit to finish the work started on the sidewalks, so other kids don't have to make a dangerous walk along the roadside to school.
"We're glad that this didn't just end in tragedy, but it's actually a legacy being built. Future generations will be protected by this sidewalk," said Barajas.
Hernandez's little sister says he would be proud of their efforts thus far, and is optimistic the entire sidewalk will be built.
"He was a person that always liked to help people and we think this is a way to carry that and help a lot of people that walk to the store, walk to school, or just walk to see a cousin or something," Anally Hernandez said.
To those involved, the project is also about something more than memories and safety. It's about showing kids in Polk County that they are cared for.
"It's something so simple, yet so vital," said Barajas.
The Young American Dreamers group and Enrique Hernandez's family hope their efforts don't end with the sidewalk. They'd also like to see better lighting and crosswalk signals to make the area safer for everyone.