Local homeless senior valedictorian's life in spotlight

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Griffin Furlong's last week in high school has been a whirlwind following his story of being class valedictorian and homeless went national.

The First Coast High senior on Friday was a guest of Mayor Alvin Brown at city hall. The visit included a ride to city hall and an hour long conversation with the mayor.

"We talked about getting all this attention, but it is not a hundred yard dash, life is a marathon," said Brown.

For Furlong the all the attention was not expected.

"I mean it started out just like a local story," said Furlong.

On Thursday the 18 year-old was interviewed and featured on ABC News. HIs life journey is documented on the web with many news organization picking up his story after being first reported by First Coast News.

Furlong talks of being in a homeless shelter following his mother's death when he was six years old.

"There was one night in a hotel just laying in bed, I was starving, I did not have anything to eat," said Furlong recounting his experiences.

His experiences are also noted on the gofundme.com website where people have responded by making donations to help Furlong with college. On Friday the account had pledges topping $60,000.

Next week at graduation ceremonies for First Coast High Furlong will have the stage as class valedictorian.

Furlong who had the highest grade point average in his class plans to attend Florida State to study engineering

He says while the past will be part of his speech next week more attention will be given to the importance of having a life with a purpose.


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