A scholarship from a historically Black college and the university will pay for an 11-year-old Florida boy’s college education.
Carter Bonas, a Coral Springs entrepreneur, received a full scholarship from Florida Memorial University earlier this month at the South Florida HBCU Golf Classic. Carter has established himself in the golf industry by launching a golf clothing line and a vitamin water line.
He also has a powerful swing.
“This young man is something special. He has had an impact on my life in ways he is unaware of. “He hit the ball better than any kid I’ve ever seen and better than half of you,” William McCormick, founder of the HBC golf tournament, said to a room full of Black golfers.
Carter began playing golf as a way to become more social. Carter, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome before he was a year old, avoids physical touch, so he chose golf to improve his social skills. It was something his parents thought could help him cope with his autism diagnosis. According to his mother, Dr. Thelma Tennie, the sport has helped him gain confidence.
Carter struggled with his symptoms a few years ago, according to Tennie. His classmates teased him, and he struggled to control his emotions. Carter then expressed suicidal thoughts. Tennie sought medical treatment for her son, and he began to regulate his emotions before becoming interested in sports.
Tennie said, “He was able to concentrate, and he no longer had invasive negative thoughts or physical altercations at school.” “It felt like he’d arrived at a point of peace and balance.”
Carter is now using his sport and nonprofit to help others and raise awareness about the syndrome. According to the company’s website, he named his clothing line “Spectrum Golf” and his vitamin water “Spectrum Vitamin Water” because he is considered high functioning on the autism spectrum scale.
Carter established Carter’s Spectrum Golf Cares Corp., which he intends to use to speak at various schools, offer mentoring programs, and provide free golf lessons.
Carter’s story earned him a spot at the Chubb Classic in Naples, Florida, where he walked the course alongside Hall of Famer Ernie Els. Els’ son is autistic as well. Carter also competed in a chip competition against Pro Golfer Alex Cejka.
FMU President Jaffus Hardick said Carter’s story inspired him as well, and he hopes it inspires others who are facing challenges and considering giving up.
“This young man turned it into something positive and began to soar, becoming an entrepreneur,” Hardick said, adding that Carter’s scholarship is a foreshadowing of FMU’s plans to launch a golf program within the next two years.