Homeless high school student named valedictorian

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Perseverance is a common theme of graduation speeches, but a homeless teen named valedictorian in Florida has really lived it. (KGO)

Perseverance is a common theme of high school graduation speeches, but one valedictorian in Florida has really lived it.

Griffin Furlong was able to excel, even though he's been homeless off and on for years.

The 18 year-old lost his mother to leukemia at the age of six. Soon after that, he lived with his father and older brother in a homeless shelter for two years in Louisville, Kentucky.

"At some point I wanted to quit," he said. "It was horrible. A kid should not have to go through that."

When he was in sixth grade, his family moved to Jacksonville. They lived in a rental house. But he says it was always a financial struggle, often having little to eat and constantly having to depend on family members for help.

A month ago, with finals and AP tests still ahead, he found himself homeless again.

His girlfriend's mother put him up for three weeks and then he moved in with an aunt and uncle.

Despite all the hardships, Furlong is graduating with a 4.65 GPA at the top of his class at First Coast High School.

"Positive mindset," he said. "I try to accomplish everything I need to do. I know that I have everything to lose so I just push myself. School is all I have, family is all I have. I am doing it all for me and what I have been through. I am doing it for my mom."

Furlong never spoke about his hardship to classmates or teachers. But he plans to share his story during his commencement speech.

"Just for everyone -- never give up," he said. "That is my main thing. I want everyone to have a purpose in life. That's kind of the message I am going to be sending to everyone. Just have a purpose in life."

Furlong now lives with his grandmother, and complete strangers are stepping up to make sure his future is brighter than his past. He's received nearly $50,000 in pledges in a GoFundMe account, which will help pay for college.
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educationdistractionstudentsgraduationhomelesshungercanceru.s. & worldFlorida
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