CREDIT: Screen capture from WKBW-TV Channel 7, Buffalo, NY
Buffalo, New York, like many cities across America, was rocked by rioting and mayhem last week, after protests about George Floyd’s death turned violent. But Antonio Gwynn Jr., a recent high school graduate with big dreams for his future, decided to take action, when he saw videos of the damage to his town on YouTube May 31st, CNN reported.
The 18-year-old man says he couldn’t sleep, so he spent the early hours of June 1st, working alone for six hours, to beautify the city streets. So, when neighbors decided to gather that morning at 8 o’clock to start a clean-up project, they were pleasantly-surprised to find the young man had pretty much handled things. So, they worked alongside Antonio for a few more hours.
Antonio has been attending a technical college, and is set to graduate, with plans to go on to college, according to WBKW.
When resident Nicole Hopkins told Sweet Buffalo, a local blog, about Antonio’s good deed, they got the ball rolling to reward him by starting a GoFundMe on his behalf, just hoping to raise $1,000 to “pay for his books, a MacBook, or at least one semester of college.” And they were able to reach the goal — and pass it.
But as any good news does in these days of gloom and doom, word spread fast:
A Hutch Tech senior spends about 10 hours cleaning Bailey Avenue, starting at 2 a.m.
— Olivia Proia (@OliviaProia) June 2, 2020
As Antonio explained to WKBW, the Buffalo ABC affiliate, he rented a truck then, “I just started riding up and down Bailey [Avenue], seeing where everything was destroyed, so I could clean it up.”
Then he revealed the bittersweet motivation behind doing it: to make his late mother, whom he lost in 2019, proud. He said, “It’s something she would do, probably. Because, I try to be just like her, or something similar. I don’t want to be a follower; I want to lead sometimes, also.”
Once the community heard about Antonio’s selfless act, they wanted to give back to him — and now, they’ve done that in a big way. In a follow-up story, WKBW reported that a citizen, Matt Block, has given him a 2004 red convertible Mustang that was just gathering dust. But it had special meaning to the young man, as Antonio told the station:
“The car he sent me a picture of was the same exact car that my mom first got me. It’s the same color, same everything.”
On top of that, the owner of a local insurance company covered Antonio’s car insurance for the next year.
But that wasn’t the end of the good news, for the man who pitched in to help his hometown without being asked. He’s earned a full scholarship to a local school, Medaille College, where he can study both mechanics and business — and someday, fulfill his dream to own a car repair shop. Watch his reaction below via WKBW: