by Danielle Wagner
INDEPENDENCE (KWWL) Independence High School senior Jake Freeman is inspiring his fellow classmates, his teachers and others in eastern Iowa.
Jake produced a video for a classroom assignment from teacher Teresa Nennig. The challenge was to share a value about life in an inspiring way. Jake Freeman definitely inspired people with his video about the community of Parkersburg and Coach Ed Thomas.
"I was just amazed. I was speechless. It was awesome. It was very heartfelt," said Teresa Nennig.
Freeman used the song "Stand" by Rascal Flatts along with photos of Coach Thomas and the Parkersburg tornado. Some of the photos he took himself when he visited the town shortly after the disaster.
Freeman said coach is an inspiration for the man he was, even though he never met him.
"No. Never. I really wish I could've. That would've been amazing to meet him," said Freeman.
He said the town of Parkersburg inspires him by standing strong and continuing to pick up the pieces.
Freeman got help on the project from fellow senior Carley Robison and special education teacher John Neil.
"This is the best thing I've seen in 25 years. I get goose bumps every time I watch this, and I've watched it pry 200 times," said John Neil.
Freeman wrote a letter to Coach Thomas's son, Aaron, and provided the family with a copy of his video. Now others want to see his work.
"I personally didn't expect it to go like this, but it did and I'm just thrilled, very excited," said Freeman.
Freeman hopes people who see is video are inspired to stand strong, even when things are difficult.
"Keep your head up and keep pushing through when things become tough you gotta realize it's gonna be fine, just have to take it day by day," he said.
Former teacher Buffy Campbell knew Jake as a freshman, when he admits he wasn't always a model student. She's inspired by what this video shows about him.
"So for me when I see this video it's more than a tribute to Coach Thomas and the Parkersburg community, it's also a reflection of Jake's process and his growth," said Campbell.
Freeman said he surprised himself with this video, and he's proud of his work.
Teacher John Neil wants the video to be a lasting tribute.
"I don't want this video to ever go away. I want it to be there 10, 15, 20 years from now as a memory of everything Parkersburg and Ed meant for the community," he said.
Reporter: Danielle Wagner