Grice Connect published a story about how Scott Palmer, a retiring Southeast Bulloch teacher, was so touched by his student, Jason Michael Carpenter, that he decided to donate his retirement gifts to the student.

Both Jason Michael and Mr. Palmer were overwhelmed by your generosity, after reading about this special duo.

In a few weeks, Mr. Palmer raised nearly $7,000 to help make Jason Michaels dream of driving come true. Join us as we take a deeper dive into this inspiring relationship that will touch your heart.

Beating the Odds

Jason Michael Carpenter was born on Jan 24, 2006, 7 weeks premature and spent his first month of life in the NICU. After a year of genetic testing, MRIs, blood draws and doctors visits, he was diagnosed at 18 months old with CMT1E. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1E is a form of the disease, which is a group of rare conditions that affect the peripheral nerves.

His parents, Jason and Christie Carpenter, were told when he was diagnosed that he would never walk, crawl or sit. Through years of physical and occupational therapy and his own determination, he continues to beat all odds and refuses to be defined by them.

Next Goal – Driving

Now he is 16 years old and wants to drive like any other teenager but he once again has to overcome obstacles that face him. In order to drive, he needed adaptive driving equipment that will cost his parents close to $40,000 to buy and have installed. That does not including the vehicle.

Your gift made a difference

“The story was wonderful. Thank You! After the story ran I had teachers that I taught with early in my career in schools that don’t’ even exist anymore like Marvin Pitman and the old Sallie Zetterower reach out and send contributions,” said Scott Palmer. “Students who I had touched sent donations, some small, some larger, but all of them touched me deeply. It is special to know that I touched their lives in such a deep way that they would chip in to help me with this.”

Mr. Palmer’s initial goal was $5,000 after he met that goal, his mother pushed him to do more. He decided to heed her encouragement and donated his first retirement check to Jason Michael. In one month he raised $6,868.95.

Jason Michael demonstrates adaptive technology in his truck

The Gift

I was able to meet with Jason Michael when Mr. Palmer presented him this tremendously generous gift. We were all brought to tears by the outpouring of generosity to help this special young man.

Jason Michael
Jason Michael receives check from Scott Palmer Credit: Grice Connect

“I really could not belive how much people gave. But Jason Michael deserves it. You just don’t know how many people know you Jason Michael in this town and appreciate you and agree with me that yours one of the best,” said Mr. Palmer. “I have now raised my goal to $10,000 and I know we will make that as well, hopefully by the end of the summer.”

Daily Struggles

Every day in Jason Michael’s life is a struggle. But also everyday he is exposed to some random acts of generosity that pushes him to work harder to overcome his challenges.

His dad gave him his pickup truck but it had to be adapted and he had to learn to drive the adapted truck. His parents took him on multiple trips to Atlanta to become trained on how to drive the truck once it was configured. Then they needed to purchase the equipment to make the truck accessible for him.

Generosity of Strangers

His mom’s niece, Heather Stuart, was friends with Sydnee Griffin who attended Jackson Baptist Church in Sylvania. Christie’s sister Lynn Hodges is friends with Patti Smith and Wendy Boyd who also attend Jackson Baptist Church. Jackson Baptist holds and annual spaghetti fundraiser to help with special projects like this. Griffin, Smith and Boyd had learned about Jason Michael’s dream from Stuart and Hodges and reached out to them about doing a fundraiser. They raised $5,000 with this event.

A church that none of them attend, who touched this young man in such a wonderfully special way, is still overwhelming to the Carpenters.

With this seed money, along with some funds raised through Go Fund Me, and with what they were able to put in, they were able to complete the adaptive components for him to operate the vehicle.

Jason Michael
Jason Michael demonstrates the adaptive technology Credit: Grice Connect

The next need is a lift for his walker or wheelchair in the future and a camper shell that will open automatically to protect the wheel chair. As his condition progresses, he will eventually lose all control of his legs. As it becomes more advanced, he will lose mobility of his arms as well.

A blessing from God

“He is a determined young man who pushes himself to do lots of things that should be impossible for him. I started working with him in April and he is not just a good kid, he is a great kid. Student wise he make very good grades. Always very concerned about his school work,” said Mr. Palmer. “And his is a big baseball fan so that helped him win my heart too! We bonded over the Braves and GS Baseball.”

“They just clicked automatically. Thank goodness for Teresa Phillips talking Mr. Palmer to leave Statesboro High, his last year of teaching and switch over mid-year to SEB to take on the Jason Michael “project”,” said Christie Carpenter. “He was a gift from God to us all.”

Mr. Palmer interrupted Mrs. Carpenter to reassure her that the answer prayer in God allowing him to meet such an impressive, driven student. It was the perfect way to end a wonderful career.

“It is crazy how everything happened. The thing I was worried about, was that I wanted to drive before the I went to school this year. So that was a big part for me to get my truck back before the summer hit,” said Jason Michael. “It worked out that I got the truck back two weeks before school got out and I was able to drive to school for that last week.”

“Nothing was more special than seeing Jason Michel drive up to school that last week. It was so cool. No, actually it was awesome!”

Scott Palmer

“When he told us his dream of driving, Jason and I knew it was going to be a challenge. We knew it would be expensive, but we really couldn’t believe how expensive it is to adapt a car to make it accessible,” said Mrs. Carpenter. “We never imagined so many strangers would be touched by Jason Michael enough to help us in such amazing ways.”

Now that he has the adaptive technology in his vehicle, he can complete his drivers test and get his license. He has dreamed of working summers and a family friend has a job waiting for him, as soon as he gets his licence. Yet another dream come true.

A future of service to others

“When I graduate from high school I want to do something with coaching, but if I am not able to do that, I want to do something with engineering with NASCAR or something like that,” said Jason Michael. “Just making houses more accessible, more adaptive for people in wheelchairs or even getting in the shower. Now I have to have help getting in and out of the shower. I want to make it easier for people with disabilities. Just to be able do things without having someone help them.”

Jason can’t wait for the first day of the new school year to drive himself to school.

$10,000 away from completing goal of driving alone

Mr. Palmer is determined to do more. He will give all gifts directly to the Jason Michel Project.

“HELP ME CELEBRATE by helping him by giving now with Venmo @Spalmer_1986. Any money I receive will go to help pay for the additional equipment he needs,” said Mr. Palmer. “I have always put students first and I want to end my teaching career by helping one more student. Thanks and God bless!!!”

Scott Palmer Venmo
@spalmer_1986

Cell last 4: 2870

Scott Palmer
2309 E. Stoneybrook Court
Statesboro, GA 30458

DeWayne Grice

Herschel DeWayne Grice is the founder of Grice Connect an online news and information company in Statesboro, Georgia. DeWayne has been active in the media for over three decades. He brings a unique insight...