Southport community rallies around student whose mother died unexpectedly

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Ethan Knox and his mother (photo from GoFundMe)

SOUTHPORT, Ind. – It’s a touching response from a teacher looking out for one of her students.

Ethan Knox, a student at Southport High School, was sitting in class last week when he was called to the principal’s office where a police chaplain was waiting for him.

Ethan found out his mother, Laura, had died. She’d been reported missing two days earlier. He was her next-of-kin.

Ethan’s teacher, Megan Woodward, started a Go Fund Me campaign for the 18-year-old student, who has been accepted at Purdue University to major in honors applied physics. He wants to be an astrophysicist.

Woodward said life hasn’t always been easy for Ethan, who experienced behavioral problems in middle school. But he’s turned things around and is now “18 years old, intelligent and has risen above the things in life he was dealt.”

He relied on his mother for emotional and financial support; while his sister has gone to live with her father, Ethan will have to shoulder financial responsibilities including the mortgage payment and electricity, water, sewer, phone, cable, grocery, gas and internet bills. He’ll do this while drawing a part-time salary at Gander Mountain.

Woodward wrote that Ethan didn’t think his mother had a life insurance policy. His mother didn’t complete his 21st Century Scholars application in middle school, meaning he’ll also have to pay for school.

Woodward said she and the other teachers are devastated and wanted to do something to help:

He is very worried. He planned to move away for college, but it isn’t time for that yet and he is fearful of his ability to have a place to live for the remainder of this school year. Also, having a house foreclosed on at the age of 18 could be an extreme detriment to his future. Other teachers, staff, and I are working with him to help guide him through things he doesn’t already know as much as possible, but what he truly needs is some financial help from more people. We can give some, but we are a small few.

So far, the campaign has raised nearly $14,000 on a modest $1,000 goal.

Ethan told Woodward that his reaction was “utter shock, amazement and the humblest of gratitude for everyone” who has helped.

Woodward told CBS4 that some local businesses have reached out about doing fundraisers. Another teacher came up with the idea of sending Ethan gas cards in the mail so he didn’t have to worry about buying gas.

Students have emailed her about organizing a car wash to support him, Woodward said. Others have approached her with money to give to directly him so he doesn’t have to worry about fees being taken out from GoFundMe (which gets a cut of each donation).

Woodward posted a YouTube video of Ethan’s response to the outpouring of support he’s received.

“Obviously, thank you a lot,” he says in the video. “I don’t really know how else to express it. The support’s been, like, crazy, and I can’t thank you guys enough.”

Ethan said he planned to “sit” on the money for the time being. He wants to work on a good budget plan and contact Wells Fargo about the mortgage.

“I do feel supported by everyone else, and it does make everything a lot easier.”

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