SARASOTA Fla. (WFLA) – Eric Silva-Gomez is a 16-year-old with high ambitions. Eric dreams of one day becoming a politician like his hero, Bernie Sanders.
He is committed to his goal of attending an Ivy League university when he graduates high school. “Nothing is going to be handed to me; I have to earn it,” Eric said.
He’s had to overcome obstacles on his path to success. Eric’s family struggles to get by, and the teen had no form of transportation. He couldn’t rely on bus schedules so he frequently walked four miles in the intense Florida heat to study at the library.
“It was very stressing,” Eric said. “I’ve had to carry my assignments with me in folders and in binders. Sometimes I’ve had to carry three binders.”
He’s also missed out on school events and social activities. “I became very depressed that I could not get along with students, that I was very anti-social,” Eric said.
Officials at the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office got wind of Eric’s predicament and were heartbroken. Charles Hampton works in the sheriff’s office’s evidence and property unit. “It really struck a chord with me. I really wanted to help this gentleman,” Hampton said.
“Some of us were blessed with so much. And for this kid, all he wanted was a bike so he could travel to the library to study to improve himself,” he added.
Hampton and his team were able to find a nice bike that had been unclaimed. They gave it to Eric as a gift.
“All he wanted was a bike, just a bike. And sometimes we take things for granted,” Hampton said.
Eric loves the new bike and was touched that the sheriff’s office cared so much. “It means the world to me,” he said. “I finally own a bike that’s mine; it’s not anybody else’s,” he said.
Eric says he will remember this and pay it forward when he goes into public service in the future.