Australia: A 15-year-old Brisbane boy with Asperger’s syndrome
who disappeared for two weeks and rode his bike more than 950
kilometres to Sydney did it to prove to “bullies” that he
wasn’t an idiot, his mother says.
During his six-day, dawn-to-dusk haul down the east
coast, Ethan Johnson slept at truck stops, under bridges and ate at
Ethan’s mother, Tammy Johnson, kept
putting a small amount of money into his keycard account each day so he
Despite this, when Johnson was finally
re-united with her son after police found him at Merrylands train
station on Good Friday, she found he’d shed substantial weight.
Ethan disappeared on the morning of March 30, and
was last seen on CCTV footage at Robina train station on the Gold Coast
at about 9.20 am.
Fears for his safety were raised after he failed to
turn up to classes at Runcorn State High School, and did not contact
any family or friends.
As it turned out, he was pedalling to prove a point.
“He rode his bicycle to Sydney for no better
reason than to see if he could,” Johnson wrote on the Internet
site. “He wanted to prove to some bullies [and everyone else]
that he’s not an idiot. And he isn't - he actually planned the
whole trip himself - which is so very far outside his comfort
Another motivation for Ethan was that he
hadn’t seen enough of the city during a school excursion when he
was 12, Johnson said.
“Because we had the CCTV footage, we knew he was safe and the
fact that he kept using his keycard as he went along we knew where to
find him when he hit Sydney.”
More than 9,000 people signed up to the site, and
most posted warm, motivational messages aimed at instilling Ethan with
“Ethan, we love and appreciate you, mate.
Can’t wait to see you back at school,'' wrote one person, Chris
Godde. Another, Kate Metzdorf, wrote: “Being bullied can make you
feel pretty sad and lonely, but if you didn’t know before, at
least you now know that you have lots of family and friends who think
you are pretty cool, so don’t ever let anyone let you think that
they are better than you, because they are not.”
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