This week, Walter Carr presented a check to Ed, representing his $25,000 contribution. Walter is a graduate of Carver High School, and he participated in Ed’s programs when he was a student there, beginning in 2014.
In late July, Walter took a 20 mile walk from Homewood to Hoover, for his first day at Bellhops moving company. During his long walk, Walter was spotted by a Pelham Police officer, who offered him a ride and breakfast. Officers from the Pelham Police helped drive Walter safely to the Lamey home, where he was scheduled for his first moving job with Bellhops.
After hearing his story, Jenny Lamey, the homeowner where Walter was working for the move, started a GoFundMe page, which raised more than $91,000 from over 2,220 contributors. Luke Macklin, the CEO of Bellhops moving company, also got involved when he personally traveled to Birmingham from Chattanooga to present Walter with a surprise gift of his own personal car.
Walter’s first impulse was to give back. He is already using the car to help drive family and friends to appointments. And, his generosity has inspired countless others to get involved: not only have people internationally given to Walter, but he has also been working with a team of volunteer professionals who are helping him navigate the new financial and media responsibilities that have been part of his life over the past few weeks.
Walter made his decision to give to Ed because he remembered participating in programs as a high school student. “Ed means a lot to me. It helped to make me the person I am today,” Walter said when asked about why he chose Ed. “It is such a wonderful organization that helps give students opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have.” Walter wants to use the money to ensure current and future students have access to programs like the ones he received from Ed. Walter was part of some of the pilot years of Educate Local programs, where he visited UAB Hospital, where he was featured on a previous blog Ed’s Student Voice, which you can see here.
Walter was also one of two students chosen to speak to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, as part of a panel on My Brother’s Keeper. You can read what Walter had to say about that experience here.
During the time Walter was a student, the Educate Local programs were still in the pilot stages, and he remembers working closely with Victoria Hollis, Educate Local Programs Director at the time, and J.W. Carpenter, Executive Director. Both J.W. and Victoria remember Walter well, and were delighted to hear the news of his contribution. “I remember working with Walter when he was a senior in high school during my first year at Ed. He struck me as humble and as a very hard worker who wanted to make sure he got it right. A few years later, it doesn’t look like anything has changed. Proud to get to work with Walter and students like him and to see all of the great things that they do after they graduate,” said J.W. Carpenter.
“The hardest thing about working in education is kids graduate, they move on, they live their lives. It’s a wonderful surprise for them to come back, years later, and to find out that something you did stuck: they remember you. We’re grateful to share this pivotal moment in Walter’s life with him,” said Victoria Hollis, Strategy Director for Ed. Victoria sat down with Walter for an interview on this incredible event in his life, which you can see here.