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Mitchell: Sun-Times readers help needy college student and severely beaten man

Updated: September 5, 2013 6:53AM

Chicago Sun-Times readers are something special.

For starters, you guys are throwing Jason Roberts quite a trunk party.

Jason is the 16-year-old Urban Prep Academy graduate who was accepted at the University of Pennsylvania. But after receiving about $30,000 in scholarships, Jason still needed about $31,000 to cover tuition, room and board.

Obviously, there are a lot of families struggling to send a kid to college.

What makes Jason’s story unique is his own generous spirit.

When his classmate, David Peake, became homeless senior year, Jason pleaded with his mother to let the young man live with their family.

That laid the foundation for David to become the class valedictorian and land a Gates Millennium Scholarship. The award will pay the teen’s college tuition, room and board for at least four years.

Although Jason was worried about his own family’s struggle to pay for college, he was still genuinely happy for his friend.

After reading about Jason and David’s friendship, many of you stepped up.

So far, you have donated $19,000 to send Jason to Penn.

“I was shocked when the woman wrote down the number on a notepad,” Jason told me after coming from the bank.

“There were three large envelopes of donations letters from people who want us to keep them updated on this story,” he said.

“This is not just a story about me and David anymore. It is about everyone who is involved. My success would be the success of everyone who has donated and helped me out,” Jason said.

“It has been overwhelming,” added his mother, Jan Kruel Roberts.

“I just want to send a huge thank-you. I feel very blessed that there are people out there who can help us realize his dream.”

Frankly, the tragedies that unfold almost daily in our beautiful city could make one think the criminals have taken over.

I am still disgusted by what happened to Michael Davis.

About six weeks ago, the 44-year-old black man was severely beaten after intervening in a fight between a white patron and two black men at a neighborhood bar. After Davis left the bar, two unidentified black men attacked him with a baseball bat.

The brutal assault put him in the ICU for a month. He is still recovering at Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

“He is talking a little bit and going through physical, occupational and speech therapy,” his niece, Alica Webb, told me. “He has a long road ahead of him.”

No one has been charged in this case, but Webb said the Chicago Police Department has been “proactive” in looking for the offenders.

“There has been an outpouring of support from across the city. It has been truly amazing. People really care and really want to support him,” Webb added.

Davis worked as a bartender and a waiter, but had no medical insurance. Several neighborhood bars have already hosted fund-raisers. Those wishing to donate to this cause may go to

“A lot of people who don’t know Michael came out to fund-raisers,” Webb said. “This has certainly been an emotional roller coaster ride for all of us.”

Obviously, whoever did this to Davis should be severely punished.

Still, it is a blessing that so many of you took the time to find out how you could help.

So on the days it feels like the bad guys have gotten the upper hand, know that’s not true.

We stand strong.


On Aug. 11, at 6 p.m., seven Chicago area talents will be performing at the Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse, to raise money for the Michael Davis Life Fund. For additional information call 847-254-4275.

On Aug. 17, from 4-6 p.m., Cutties Yacht Club will host a fund-raiser to benefit the Jason Roberts College Fund. Donations also are being accepted at: Jason Roberts c/o Chicago Patrolmen’s Federal Credit Union, 2766 W. 111th St., Chicago, IL 60655

Twitter: @MaryMitchellCST

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