Americus teen steps up to the plate, pays the bills during mother’s illness

Updated: Jun. 29, 2020 at 9:17 AM EDT
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AMERICUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Tough times can seemingly come out of nowhere and that’s exactly what happened to an Americus mother when she started experiencing changes in her body. As the bread winner of her home while raising two children, paying the bills became impossible to do.

But little did Angela Gardner know, her knight in shining armor was right under her nose. Her son Travion was 13 years old and daughter, Kaylesia, was 19 years old at the time when their mother first noticed something was wrong with her body.

Life was pretty normal for the family of three. They enjoyed hanging out together and playing video games with Travion, his favorite pastime. Then one day, life as they knew it started to unravel.

“It started a couple of years ago, when I had went to the doctor,” explained Angela. “I couldn’t figure out what it was, sometimes I woke up, I would swell up, I would have chills, my mouth was twisted.”

By the time Travion was 15 years old, his mother’s condition had taken a turn for the worse. She could no longer work two jobs in the home health field. Her car had even been repossessed.

“He (Travion) woke up one day and he saw things were not looking up for us and he said mom, ‘I want to go out and get a job.‘”

At 16 years old, when most teens boys are focused on playing sports, Travion traded his baseball cleats in for a time clock. Her got a part-time job at Captain D’s and learned to cut hair to help make ends meet in their home.

“I was so happy,” Angela recalled. “I was so excited. I started crying because I had been praying to God for some changes and it was like God had answered my prayers.”

Travion was listed as a part-time worker on paper, but in actuality he received full-time pay because of the extra hours he worked. He was always willing to fill-in for call outs and many nights he would work until closing and still managed to get up the next morning to go to school.

But when the paychecks started rolling in, Angela’s joy turned to guilt. “I said, I feel bad because you can’t get the things you want and he said, mom, ‘Let me tell you something. Never feel bad; feel bad if we didn’t have any place to stay.‘”

Travion paid the light, water and gas bills and the rent as the family was facing displacement and he also kept food on the table, according to Angela.

Now his mother is joyous as she saw Travion walk across the stage last night to receive his high school diploma at Americus-Sumter High School.

Travion offered this advice to others, “Keep trying because some days I didn’t know what was going to happen but tomorrow was a brighter day.”

He leaves Monday, June 29, to join the United States Army and hopes to soon open up a barbershop in his hometown, giving others an opportunity to make a living in honor of his older half-brother who was killed to gun violence last year.

His older half-brother taught him how to cut hair which was another source of income for Travion as he took care of his mom and sister all while obtaining good grades in high school.

His teacher at Americus-Sumter, Adrienne Clayton, a cosmetology and barber instructor said when Travion entered in the “Move On When Ready” program in high school she had no idea, at first, that Travion was taking on such remarkable responsibility.

“He stood out because you have students that don’t want to go further and he was motivated. He told me he wanted to join the military. He piggy backed off his brother who was also a barber, where as they were different, they both went after their goals.

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