AUSTIN, Texas — An Austin teen received a two-fold surprise Friday, courtesy of his mentor and an airline that has yet to launch service to the Live Music Capital of the World.
Young musician has been in foster care
Received free drum set
Free flights on Spirit Airlines
Warner Ross, 17, is a sophomore in high school. While in the Texas foster care system, Ross' case worker learned of his passion for music. The case worker matched him with a mentor through the nonprofit, Kids in a New Groove, or KING.
"He's really been a good example," Ross said of his mentor, Mark. "He's really helped a lot."
The two meet once a week to practice drumming. Ross said he hasn't had a drum kit since he was very young, but would love to have the ability to practice at home. Additionally, he said drumming helps him channel stress.
"Through everything since I was little, I have always just taken my stress and my bad tempers off with the drums," Ross said. "This has improved that to where I can take my mind off things and I can read music and play it. It takes even more stress off of me. It's like my own therapy."
Ross is already scoping out colleges based on their drum corps.
"The whole time, I have been planning to go for music, but this really increased my want to go to college for music," he said.
Ross said his boost in musical interest comes from his KING mentor.
"Giving them the ability to build success and life skills, so they can be successful," said Laura Wood, Executive Director of KING.
Spirit Airlines caught wind of Ross' story and decided to pay him a visit Friday.
"All yours," a Spirit employee told Ross, as they uncovered a full drum kit in Ross's front yard.
Plus, the airline's helping with his college search.
"You're flying on Spirit, and you are flying for free," the Spirit representative said as employees revealed a giant check.
"This is great," Ross said.
Spirit Airlines launches its service February 14, 2019 from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to eight destinations. The ultra low-cost carrier serves 74 destinations in all.
"I see that I can get a lot more options and a lot more chances to look at," Ross said.
He also has the ability to practice his passion for percussion at home.
"That is the beautiful thing about music: everybody can relate to it," Wood said. "It is that universal language."
Kids in a New Groove participates in Amplify Austin, the semi-annual 24-hour fundraising challenge to support dozens of Austin nonprofit organizations. The next fundraiser is February 28, 2019.