For the past school year, Corey Patrick has gotten up at 4:30 a.m. each morning to catch a local bus to get to Tarrant High School, in Alabama, on time.
Earlier this month, he began the journey from his Birmingham home as usual — but this time, in his graduation gown.
“Even when he would get out of school he couldn’t get from that side of town until 5:19 when the bus runs back over there. So he doesn’t make it back this way until about 6:30 or 7 o’clock,” his mother, Felicia White, told WBRC.
Patrick added to the station: “I had to do what was necessary for me to walk this year.”
A bus driver took a pair of photos of Patrick as he rushed to make his way to the bus stop that morning, clad in a blue graduation gown. The pictures quickly went viral, amassing more than 40,000 shares on Facebook.
They even caught the attention of comedian Rickey Smiley, host of his self-titled, Georgia-based radio show. On Friday, Smiley gave the teen a car at the 95.7 JAMZ studio.
“Little buddy wanted doing this, trying to get no hype on the internet or trying to get no hype on the radio,” Smiley said in a video of the sweet gesture. “He did it because he wanted his high school diploma.”
Smiley said he’d supply aids to help Patrick get his driver’s license. In the video, Patrick appeared emotional as he and his family marvelled at their new SUV.
The viral photos have changed Patrick’s life in more ways than one. Along with the vehicle, a GoFundMe page created for the teen has raised more than $11,000.
Patrick has since received a full scholarship to Jacksonville University, according to CBS 42. He told Smiley he plans to study computer science.