Homeless Teen Who Biked 50 Miles to Register for College Gets Heartwarming Surprise
Fred Barley, a homeless 19-year-old from Conyers, Georgia, was determined to complete his second semester at Gordon State College. Registration day was approaching fast, but he didn’t have a ride to get himself to the college, located 50 miles away in the city of Barnesville. “My girlfriend couldn’t drive me. She didn’t have a car. So my little brother handed me a bike.” Barley biked for 6 hours, carrying everything he owned in two duffel bags on his shoulders, along with two gallons of water and a box of cereal. When he arrived on campus, he pitched his tent behind some bushes and prepared to stay hidden for the next few weeks before registration opened up in early August.
Then, the police showed up. At first, they asked him to come out of his tent with his hands up—for safety purposes. After Barley told them he was homeless, that he had biked from Conyers, and that he was a biology major with aspirations for medical school, the officers felt a change of heart and helped the young man find a home for the night at a nearby motel. Barley told local station WSB-TV, “The stuff that’s happening with police officers, I’m black and he didn’t care what color I was. He just he helped me, and that meant a lot.” Barley’s story began to be heard all over the city and when resident Casey Blaney heard of it, she didn’t hesitate to step up and help. She covered the rest of the cost of Barley’s motel stay, and asked him what else he wanted. After she asked him three times with a humble response of “nothing,” he finally said “A job.” Barley was hired on the spot as a dishwasher at a local pizzeria. His determination to apply himself and better his life was fierce. Blaney was inspired by him to do more.
She created the Facebook group called Success for Fred, where she posted his story and a link to a GoFundMecampaign. Blaney asked the community to support this persevering teenager with money, school supplies, clothing—anything to help him get to college and on his way to becoming a psychiatrist. To everyone’s amazement, strangers from near and far donated over $184,000 for Fred in just five short days.
Soon, Barley will go back to class, but he’ll never forget the new friends he has made—this new family of strangers who has helped him progress towards his dream. “People from across the country that I’ve never met just wanted to help so much in my life. I was just so shocked and grateful,” Barley said. He plans to keep in touch with all his donors and update them on his grades and activities. “I want to show you that all you’ve done for me is not going to waste,” says Barley in a “thank you” video he posted on his girlfriend’s Facebook. “I appreciate all of you guys for all you’ve been doing. Even if you stopped today, I promise you, you’ve done enough.”
Photo via FOX5 Atlanta
All images via Success for Fred unless otherwise stated