A dispute over $184,000 in donations to a homeless Georgia college student was settled after the woman who started the campaign doubted the teen’s story.
The outpouring of support came after local Atlanta news outlet WSB-TV reported last month that Fred Barley rode his little brother’s bicycle six hours to get to Gordon State College to register for classes. He also slept in a tent pitched in the bushes on campus because the dorms aren’t open until August.
In early July, police responded to a call about a man, later identified as Barley, sleeping in a tent outside the school. After speaking to him, the officers took him to a local motel and paid for a two-night stay.
“The stuff that’s happening with police officers — I am black and he didn’t care what color I was,” Barley told WSB-TV at the time. “He just helped me, and that meant a lot.”
The responding officer’s wife shared the story on her local community’s Facebook page, catching the eye of Casey Blaney, who decided to start a GoFundMe page to help raise money for Barley’s education.
“If you live in this area, and you have room in your heart for someone that needs family…please invite him to dinner a few times a month,” she asked her Facebook friends on July 11. “Please take time to cheer him on and tell him he can do this. Please pray for him. Please share some life with him. If you want to help him with clothes, shoes, food gift-cards, anything on your heart. Please let me know and I’ll get it to him. He’s worth it. I promise.”
The fundraising campaign ultimately raised $183,946 by 5,724 people in just 20 days. However, Blaney started to doubt Barley’s story because she “questioned his integrity because of immature remarks he had made,” the college student’s boss told the Daily Mail. Blaney then decided to publicly challenge the accuracy of his story.
“We’ve received conflicting information about [Fred’s] 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,” she wrote in a second Facebook post on July 27. “We just want to do the right thing, and we’ve asked for the campaign to be reviewed.”
GoFundMe briefly froze the campaign until the pair’s differences were resolved. Attorneys came to an agreement and decided to place the $184,000 into a trust, which both Barley and Blaney approved of, according to KFOR.com.
Barley, who plans to continue attending Gordon State College as a biology major, wrote on his Facebook page on Monday, August 1, that he and Blaney have “come to terms so both parties are happy.”
“I will be allowed to put [the money] into a trust that covers both living expenses and help with my tuition,” he wrote. “Together, my attorney and her attorney are working cooperatively to ensure that all assets donated go strictly to me and in a trust that I agree with. Thank you everyone for your prayers and [for] standing behind me through everything.”
A GoFundMe representative later told AJC: “We’re pleased everyone agreed to set up an educational trust for Fred. As soon as the trust is fully established, the funds will be directly transferred to the trust.”
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