An 11-year-old Florida boy will have his college education paid for, thanks to a scholarship from a historically Black college and university.
Carter Bonas, an entrepreneur from Coral Springs, received a full scholarship from Florida Memorial University at the South Florida HBCU Golf Classic earlier this month. Carter has made a name for himself in the golf industry, starting a golf clothing line and vitamin water line.
He also has an impressive swing.
“This young man is very special. He touched my life in a way that he don’t even know. He hit the ball better than any kid that I’ve ever seen and better than how half of you hit the ball,” said William McCormick, founder of the HBC golf tournament, to a room full of Black golfers.
Playing golf started as a way for Carter to become more social. Diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome before he was a year old, Carter tends to avoid physical touch, so he chose golf to build his social skills. It was something his parents believed could help with his autism diagnosis. The sport has helped him gain confidence, his mother, Dr. Thelma Tennie, said.
Tennie said Carter struggled with his symptoms a few years ago. His classmates teased him, and he found it hard to manage his emotions. Carter then expressed feelings of suicide. Tennie got her son medical treatment, and he began to regulate his emotions before finding interest in the sport.
“He was able to concentrate, he said, and he no longer had invasive negative thoughts or physical altercations at school,” Tennie said. “It felt like he finally gotten to a place of peace and balance.”
Now Carter is using the sport and his nonprofit to help others and bring awareness to the syndrome. He named his apparel line “Spectrum Golf” and his vitamin water “Spectrum Vitamin Water” because he is considered high functioning on the autism spectrum scale, according to the company’s website.
Carter created a nonprofit, Carter’s Spectrum Golf Cares Corp., which he plans to use to speak at various schools and offer mentoring programs and free golf lessons.
Carter’s story led to an invite to the Chubb Classic in Naples, Florida, where he walked the course with Hall of Famer Ernie Els. Els’ son is also autistic. Carter also went head to head with Pro Golfer Alex Cejka in a chip competition.
FMU President Jaffus Hardick said Carter’s story inspired him also, and he hopes it is an inspiration to others who face challenges and think about giving up.
“This young man turned it into something positive and began to soar, becoming an entrepreneur,” said Hardick, adding that Carter’s scholarship is a prelude to the FMU’s plans to launch a golf program within the next two years.