FORT WASHAKIE, Wyo. – George Abeyta taught in his Wyoming middle school classroom for over 20 years, getting to know hundreds of students along the way. He tried to inspire them to go to college and graduate.
“As you go up the hallway, you’ll see every 8th grade class,” Abeyta told KTWO-TV. “I’m looking at those classes and I’m thinking, here this person graduated. Maybe two or three out of every class.”
In 1999, at that year’s 8th grade graduation, he made a promise to all 35 students to provide an all expenses paid trip to Disneyland.
“And of course they’re all excited,” Abeyta said. Then he told them the catch, “Upon graduation from a four year college.”
Since then, no one contacted him on his offer, except for one.
A few weeks ago Stanford Ware got ahold of Mr. Abeyta on Facebook. Showing his certificate for one trip to Disneyland along with his degree from Colorado State, 18 years later.
“He said there was no expiration date on it,” Ware said. “I would’ve liked to have done it sooner, but it just wasn’t in the cards for me.”
Ware was a three sport athlete at Fort Washakie, and Abeyta was his coach all along the way. After failing at the University of Washington in 2004, Ware wasn’t sure he was going to finish his education.
“I was raised in such a way that you should really go out and get an education,” Ware described. “I remember my parents were kind of on me. I spent 5 years in the oil field, working on oil rigs, and after so long I realized that I needed to go back to school.”
Ware went back to school, majoring in biological science and he graduated in 2015. And he even held onto that certificate to Disneyland.
For Abeyta, it meant that after all the years of teaching at Fort Washakie, that he could inspire students to attend college.
“That’s the direction that I hope we’re heading, where every kid is planning on it,” said Abeyta. “Where it’s not a question, but an expectation.”
Ware plans on taking his trip with his wife and daughter next summer. He hopes that with his education, he can inspire his daughter to accomplish the same.