Walter Carr went viral this summer. It was something he never expected, but it has allowed him to do things he’s always wanted.
You may have heard about it — Walter, of Birmingham, Alabama, walked more than 20 miles to get to his first day of work after his car broke down back in July. He walked all night, making it to Pelham around 4 a.m., where he got help from police officers.
They bought him breakfast and drove him to the home of Jenny Lamey, where Walter was to begin his first day of work with Bellhops, a moving company. Jenny posted about Walter on Facebook, and the story took on a life of its own.
The Bellhops CEO, Luke Marklin, heard about it, too. He drove down from Tennessee to thank Walter in person — and to give Walter his car.
Walter’s story was featured in the Washington Post and on BBC News. He was interviewed on Fox News, and he showed Inside Edition the route he walked.
“I consider it a blessing, and I take it, because now I have the opportunity to go out and spread my message,” Walter said.
Walter, who turns 21 this month, is a student at Lawson State Community College in Birmingham. He will graduate in December 2018 as a pre-physical therapy major, a path he’s been on since he was in the Academy of Health Sciences at G.W. Carver High School. He’s still trying to decide if he’s going to transfer straight to Alabama State University or if he’s going to join the Marines first.
He became a Phi Theta Kappa member this fall, after a professor recommended it as something he might be interested in. Walter was inducted in late September.
“I like to help people,” he said. “Phi Theta Kappa was just another program that I could be in to bring knowledge to others in the community.”
Walter has been mentoring others since high school, although he saw the value in it as early as elementary school, when older students would come to read to younger ones. That may be where his give-back attitude comes from — he said it’s always been in him. He has mentored children through Big Brother, Big Sister and other community programs.
He wants to start his own mentoring program, one that has no conditions about who can participate. While many programs focus on mentoring children who are going through difficult times, Walter believes all students should have the opportunity to get a mentor.
“Everybody deserves to have their voice heard,” he said.
Since his brush with fame, Walter has been speaking at local schools and churches, encouraging kids to never give up.
Walter made the news again a few weeks ago. After his story went viral, a crowdfunding campaign raised more than $90,000 for him, much of which he will put toward college and savings.
But, he also donated $25,000 to the Birmingham Education Foundation, a nonprofit working to increase the number of students in Birmingham City Schools that are on the path to college and a career. Walter was involved with BEF in high school.
“Those programs helped me become who I am today,” he said.
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