EDGEWATER — Minchah Chevalier went against her better judgment and made the trek from Lakeview to Edgewater to see firsthand what an Arizona couple faced in their first hours in Chicago that made them turn around and head home.
"I try to never go this far north," Chevalier said jokingly.
She was one of about 100 people who showed for the Brianna and Jaelin Walking Tour, a walk through Edgewater which commemorated the couple's encounter with a man who allegedly punched Jaelin while the young couple was on their way to eat.
The tour commemorated the recent phenomenon of Brianna and Jaeline White, the 18-year-old YouTube star couple who moved to Chicago for one day and decided to return to Arizona after their saga near the Granville Red Line Stop.
Their video that retells the incident, titled "The Reason We're Homeless Right Now (no clickbait) Storytime," drew a major response from Chicagoans, who mocked the couple for being scared off so easily and for proclaiming to be homeless after the affair.
Reporter Joe Ward experienced the Brianna & Jaelin Walking Tour firsthand.
The walking tour was created by Edgewater resident and comedian Kevin Fergus, who said not only did he want to highlight good aspects of the neighborhood, but also decided to partner with local food pantry Care For Real to make sure some good came from the unconventional situation.
"When I saw people on the Facebook event suggest we raise money for the homeless it just made sense to me," Fergus told DNAinfo. "It just seemed natural to me to use this thing that struck such a chord to do some good in the world."
Kevin Fergus and Nikki Loehr lead the Brianna and Jaelin Walking Tour of Edgewater Tuesday. [DNAinfo/Joe Ward]
Attendees to the walking tour could donate cash on site, which goes toward Care For Real's goal of feeding 10 days worth of meals to those in need, including many homeless residents.
By Wednesday morning, event organizers said they had collected at least $308 in cash donations in addition to donations made online.
Organizers also challenged the couple to donate to the nonprofit as well, up to a matching amount.
Justin Hardesty, a longtime Edgewater resident, was collecting donations for the food pantry. He said the tour, as well as the White's saga, has actually been a boon for the neighborhood.
It gave neighbors something to talk about and bond over, and it also helped out a local charity.
"It's absolutely hilarious and ridiculous," Hardesty said. "It's definitely a good thing. No press is bad press."
Justin Hardesty (l.) collects donations for Care For Real, an Edgewater food pantry, at the Brianna and Jaelin Walking Tour of Chicago. [DNAinfo/Joe Ward]
Others said the White's saga has had a rallying effect for city residents, who can at least take solace in the fact that they survived city life longer than a pair of 18-year-olds from Arizona.
"It just shows — [surviving] the winter, the crime, makes people grateful. You see it, there's camaraderie," said AJ Nichols. "There's no camaraderie if you only make it one day."
In a 16-minute video, "The Reason We're Homeless Right Now (no clickbait) Storytime" that has since become viral, a teenage married couple from Arizona — Brianna Joy White and Jaelin White — explain how the couple were scared away from the city before spending a single night in their new Granville Avenue apartment in Edgewater.
The couple said a man, who they said was "not homeless," had asked them probing questions and made them feel uncomfortable.
The Whites hid out in a nearby Subway restaurant and after Jaelin said he stepped outside and confronted the man multiple times, the man punched him in the face as the pair hopped into a passerby's car.
Chicago swiftly let the Whites know what they thought of their decision to leave and their use of the word "homeless" to describe themselves, particularly because the video was filmed from a relative's swanky kitchen.
"Fans" of Brianna and Jaelin White check out the Subway the couple sought shelter in during a run-in with a man near the Red Line. [DNAinfo/Joe Ward]
Earlier, Fergus told DNAinfo he didn't want to belittle being assaulted in public, but he also felt the couple created a false impression of Chicago to their social media followers who may be less familiar with the city and made light of the serious issue of homelessness.
Homelessness on the Far North Side, such as encampments at Foster and Wilson Avenues near Lake Shore Drive, has remained a contentious problem among activists, city officials and some residents for years.
To turn a negative into a positive and possibly help the type of person the Whites describe in their video as harassing them, Fergus said he took the suggestion of reaching out to the Edgewater non-profit.
"I like that they specifically serve the Far North Side and they have such a specific vision of what they do for that community, it makes them a charity I can feel really good supporting," Fergus said.
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