Friday morning, students, teachers, and friends gathered at the parking
lot of the Cape Hatteras Secondary School (CHSS) for the unveiling of a
very special surprise graduation gift – a brand new golf cart for
graduate Ethan Bachelor.
has autism, but is an inspiration for everyone who knows him. The
senior was voted Homecoming King at CHSS in the fall, and when
graduation rolled around, his friends and family knew they had to do
something special to celebrate his achievement.
one of Ethan’s favorite things is cruising around in style in his golf
cart – an activity which unfortunately came to a halt after his old
cart broke down beyond repair.
Cartwright, substitute teacher and family friend, orchestrated an
island-wide effort to raise enough funds to supply Ethan with a new
ride – an endeavor that was propelled by tons of love and appreciation
for Ethan himself.
got to work with Ethan and fell in love with him,” said Melinda. “He’s
the most vibrant person you’ve ever met. He loves life, and is always
husband had worked on his golf cart couple times when it needed
repairs, but this last time it was broken, there was just no way to fix
it,” she said. “So we said we’ve got to do something about this.”
so they did. Working with Ethan’s family, teachers and friends, Melinda
started a very successful GoFundMe campaign that raised more than
$2,000 from roughly 40 donors, hosted a bake sale with Honor Society
student volunteers, and also collected donations from tons of people
who wanted to help. The organization Hearts of Hope also helped with
the endeavor, as did visitor donors from as far away from
golf cart] is his happy place on the planet,” she said. “Ever since he
was little, his dad always said he was obsessed with golf carts. He’s
just such a ray of sunshine, and everyone wanted to give him a little
bit of happiness because he so deserves it.”
fundraising efforts worked like a charm, and a few days before big
presentation, Melinda drove to Virginia to pick up his new and
customized ride. The golf cart was decked out in big tires and a lift
kit, (an upgrade designed just for Ethan who adores big tires), was a
royal blue color, and had Ethan’s name literally written on it in
custom detail work, courtesy of friend Jennifer Cromwell.
on Friday morning, after weeks of anticipation for everyone involved,
the surprise golf cart was finally unveiled after Ethan and other
seniors returned from the Walk of Fame at the Cape Hatteras Elementary
Ethan got off the bus and noticed the unusual crowd, Melinda stepped up
and told him “All of your friends are here because we brought you a
Then the golf cart rolled in, and Ethan could be spotted clapping and grinning from ear to ear.
Ethan took his new ride out for a test spin immediately, with friends
and family members climbing aboard to enjoy a quick cruise.
for Melinda - and everyone who has the pleasure of knowing Ethan – the
payoff was well worth the weeks of work and anticipation.
with him is a highlight of my day,” said Melinda. “I love that it is
such a surprise, and that we could keep it a giant secret even though
the whole community knew.”
takes a village, and the way this community pulls together is
heartwarming,” she added. “You don’t think communities like this exist
anymore, but they do, right here on our island.”
CLICK HERE TO VIEW SLIDE SHOW