UPDATE: The viral story of the 19-year-old biology major who rode a bike six hours to get to his university everyday was a national inspiration.
It spoke to the value of perseverance and the importance of kindness. However, Fred Barley's happy ending is now in limbo as the $184,000 raised for him through GoFundMe has been frozen pending an investigation into his story, according to The Root.
Apparently, the woman who set up the account, Casey Blaney, came across a discrepancy that she vaguely touched upon in a Facebook post on the "Success For Fred" page.
"Unfortunately, multiple questions have been raised about Fred’s story. We’ve received conflicting information about his initial story, and we just want to make sure the donors and the public have all of the information available to them before the funds are transferred to a trust to pay for his education. We just want to do the right thing, and we’ve asked for the campaign to be reviewed,” she wrote.
The whole dispute between Blaney and Barley reportedly began when Barley refused to put his money in a trust fund — as recommended by Blaney — unless he could choose the attorney and trustee.
While unconfirmed, there's some speculation that Blaney is staging this "inquiry" into Barley's story as a means to discredit him and get back at him for objecting to her plan.
Barley responded to all this controversy on his own Facebook page, assuring donors and all who have supported him that he has not mislead them.
“I’ve had so many people attack my intelligence, my life, my character, and even more important, my integrity. I have not lied to any of you, nor will I," he wrote.
Aside from their respective Facebook posts, Barley and Blaney are keeping relatively quiet about the ordeal and evidently handling their dispute behind the scenes.
In the meantime, "the funds are placed on hold and cannot be withdrawn until all the questions have been answered," according to GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne.
Fred Barley, a homeless college student, rode his little brother’s bike for six hours across Georgia to get himself from Conyers to Barnesville, all so that he could enroll himself in classes at the Gordon College for his second semester at college.
The 19-year-old was discovered by police officers when he was sleeping outside a local college in a tent, and owned nothing more than a box of cereal, 2 gallons of water and two duffel bags carrying his belongings. He was going to remain living like this for a month, until his college reopens in August. During the day, Barley would search for jobs, and come back to his tent to sleep at night.
Things changed for the biology major, when cops passing by the area dropped by his tent, asking him to come out with his hands up. Seeing a man living behind the bushes probably alarmed the officers. But the situation took an interesting turn when instead of handing him a ticket for trespassing, the police took him to a nearby motel and set him up there for the next two nights with his stay paid for.
Barley, who dreams of attending medical school, soon became popular online when the officer’s wife posted his story on a Barnesville community Facebook page. People enthusiastically commented on the post offering their help. The motel owner, meanwhile, is allowing the teen to stay for free for a few days more, and the college will allow him to move into his dorm room earlier. Barley has also landed himself a job at a local pizzeria, DB's Pizzeria, as a dishwasher. The restaurant’s owner came across his story on Facebook and offered him the job.
“I created a position for him before he walked in my door. I didn’t know his name. I didn’t know the color of his skin. I didn’t care. I’ve been there so I guess I had a soft spot for anyone who is that determined to succeed in life,” she said.
A Facebook page called Success For Fred has been set up where people are donating clothes, shoes and other supplies so Barley may be able to have a comfortable life while attending college. A GoFundMe page setup for the same purpose has attracted around $27,350 in donations from people across the country.
To thank people for their kindness, Barley recorded a video message that was posted to Facebook by his girlfriend, Shaina Boyd.
“All of this has been so overwhelming and stuff, I’m just in total shock. I’m kind of speechless but I wanted to tell you that I thank y’all so much.”
He also informed people that he would keep them posted on his grades once college starts, and that since the money collected is a large amount he will use it sparingly, and possibly save it up for med school.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters, Shannon Stapleton