U of C student attended Second Mile, hopes charity continues

A sign for The Second Mile charity is seen outside the organization's headquarters in State College, Pa., on Saturday Nov. 2, 2011. The charity's founder, former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, was charged Saturday with 40 criminal counts for allegedly molesting eight boys. (AP Photo/Genaro C. Armas)

November 15, 2011 3:07:59 AM PST
Thomas Day, 31, says The Second Mile, a children's charity where former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky is accused of meeting his alleged child victims, helped him get to where he is now.

Day is currently working on his second master's degree at the University of Chicago. He attended Second Mile as a child.

"Somebody like Coach Sandusky, you know, was almost a god," Day said.

On Monday, the president of the State College, Pennsylvania, charity stepped down as the investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Sandusky, who founded The Second Mile, continues. The Second Mile is a charity that benefits thousands of at-risk kids.

"The Second Mile taught me that I could accomplish things that I never thought I could accomplish," Day said.

According to a grand jury report, The Second Mile is the place where Sandusky allegedly found his victims. All eight who are named in the document are said to be part the charity, which uses mentors to serve as examples to children who often come from troubled backgrounds.

Day's interactions with Sandusky were limited, he said, and always as part of a group. But he says Sandusky was an imposing figure in a town that revered Penn State's football team.

"Jerry Sandusky, aside from Coach Joe Paterno is king of that fiefdom. And I can imagine a lot of kids... feeling like, again, they just couldn't say no to this man," Day said.

In 1999, Sandusky said of his work with The Second Mile, "...I don't get to do all the things that I've wanted to do at Second Mile camp. But I have a great time and when those youngsters leave that's an emotional experience for me too."

The foundation's longtime CEO Jack Raykovitz resigned his post Monday, becoming the latest casualty in the child abuse scandal that has rocked State College, Pennsylvania.

"It's imperative that this foundation continue its mission in some way, shape or form. We can't abandon these kids. They rely on these mentors too much," Day.

The Second Mile denies it knew the seriousness of the child abuse allegations against Sandusky, but prosecutors are expected to open an inquiry. It's believed that at least one of the alleged victims is considering naming the organization in a civil lawsuit.

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