The Swift experience: From a former foster kid to current ones

Taylor Swift is coming to Cincinnati. For a huge Swiftie like Amanda Carter, that means getting her hair and nails done with friends, putting together a sparkly outfit to go with the Swift Lover era and planning to get to the concert early to hang out beforehand with tens of thousands of other Swifties.

Swift concerts are extraordinary experiences. Carter can’t wait. And she wants to make sure some special fans experience it as fully immersed as she will.

Carter’s a new public relations specialist for Hamilton County, which is where she learned that more than 100 teens in foster care would be attending the concert. The promoter included the free tickets as part of the deal to use Paycor Stadium and they were raffled through the county’s new Beyond Your Imagination program that offers tickets to various experiences to foster families.

Carter knows that foster kids often don’t get the same opportunities as others do. She knows because she lived in foster care from 10 until she was adopted at 16. She wants to make sure the foster kids feel the full experience too, including the trading of friendship bracelets that goes on before the show.

So Carter and three friends decided to come together to make bracelets to give them. When she posted on Instagram about what she was doing, people from across the country donated more than 200 bracelets and more than $600 to help cover the cost of supplies. In total, they have nearly 500 bracelets, with donations continuing to come in.

“I was lucky enough to have a mom and dad like Carla and Jim Carter, who made sure I had all the fun and experiences,” she said. “Not everyone is so lucky. This is just a small thing I want to do to make a special moment a little sweeter for these kids.”

Carter, 31, has been a Swift fan since the singer’s early days. She remembers watching her videos on MTV after school. Swift draws praise for writing songs about things and feelings others face too – that has always resonated with Carter. This will be her first Swift concert.

The donated money allowed Carter and her friends to provide more than the bracelets. Each foster teen will get a bag with at least four bracelets, heart-shaped glasses and a button from a different Swift era. Also included will be a small card explaining how to trade the bracelets.

Carter’s excited that “this little passion project turned into something,” to quote a Swift song, “Bigger Than the Whole Sky, and I appreciate everyone who shared, donated, crafted and offered to help.

“Long live all the magic we made.”