Twelve-year-old Nolan Turner was robbed last week while selling water bottles as part of a fundraising for a basketball camp that caters to children and adults in wheelchairs. Turner, who had raised about $250 at the time, has spina bifida. But what started out as a potentially heartbreaking story has turned into a tale of inspiration. After the Charlotte Observer first reported about Nolan's situation, thousands of individuals began donating to his fundraising effort.
And now, Nolan—who has helped in previous fundraising efforts and said his fundraising goal this time was $1,000—has raised nearly $25,000.
"As I have told many people so far, we are simply overwhelmed with the positive response that we have gotten from everybody," wrote Nolan's father, Ken Turner, on the GoFundMe account he has set up for his son. "Nolan is so excited about the positive responses that he has been getting."
Nolan is raising the funds to support a wheelchair basketball event— organized by the nonprofit organization Bridge II Sports—at his elementary school.
"It's crazy how that mean act has turned into something positive that has allowed us to do so much more,'' Bridge II Sports founder Ashley Thomas told the "Today" show. "The response has been huge.''
With all of the extra fundraising success, Bridge II Sports says they will now expand the basketball game to a full-day event at Nolan's school, with the additional funds going to help support the one-week Camp Carefree summer camp for children with disabilities and other health issues.
"I'm happy that there are so many good people in the world and that they are helping my team,'' Turner told the "Today" show. "Junior Thunder is my favorite thing in my life. Playing wheelchair basketball lets me feel like a regular kid.''
The Observer reports that the donations have come in, in amounts ranging from $5 to $500. One parent posting on Nolan's GoFundMe page said her children had volunteered to donate their allowance to the effort. Police are still searching for the man who robbed Nolan and disappeared into the nearby woods.