A group of generous donors have pulled together to give a deserving teen the opportunity of a lifetime.
19-year-old Fred Barley was asleep in a tent in the bushes on the Gordon State College Campus in Barnesville, GA when police found him in mid July. According the Channel 2 Action News, the teen immediately explained to the officers that he had ridden his younger brother's bicycle 60 miles from his hometown of Conyers to register for his second semester of classes and had planned to sleep in the tent until campus dorms opened in August. He'd spent the afternoon job searching and had just returned to his tent when the officers arrived. The officers took Fred, along with his two duffle bags and two gallons of water he'd brought along for his trip, to a local motel and paid for his first two nights.
Barnesville resident Casey Blaney soon caught wind of Fred's story once it began to make rounds on social media and decided to start a GoFundMe page to help raise money towards his college expenses. In less than two weeks, donors had poured nearly $185,000 into the donation page, while several others in the community also pitched in to lend Fred a hand. In addition to a local pizza place hiring him as a dishwasher, Gordon State also allowed Fred to move into his dorm early. Although grateful, the teen says he was genuinely surprised at the outpouring of support. “The most shocking part is so many people coming to help a stranger, because honestly in today’s society this sounds like a scam,” he told the news outlet.
Casey recently halted donations on the GoFundMe page she started for Fred after the total reached $184,266. After receiving backlash for deciding to stop donations, Casey's lawyer spoke out on her behalf, telling the AJC that she felt continuing to accept funds would be "taking advantage of the public." Casey elaborated further on her personal Facebook page, reassuring everyone that she's working with an attorney to have all of the funds collected placed in an educational fund for Fred.
The humble teen, who hopes to attend medical school in the future, says his faith in God has continued to be a strong source of motivation in spite of his circumstances. "The Bible says, ‘You can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,’ so I know I can,” he said. “My legs are working. Millions of people walk and bike to work every day. I definitely think I can bike a couple hours to get to my future.”
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