Shelle Curley is a single mom whose son, DJ Strong, was recently accepted to one of the most prestigious arts academies in the country, Idyllwild Arts Academy.
But despite a $45,000 scholarship, Curley wasn't able to pay the entire tuition for her son. Still, she refused to let her son's dancing dreams die.
"You should go to the ends of the earth for your children," Curley told CBS News.
Curley said on "The Early Show" Thursday she tried selling things at yard sales, but it just wasn't enough. That's when her daughter suggested jokingly that she beg.
"I was like, 'Great idea!' and she goes, 'No, Mom, I was kidding.' ... I'm like, 'Great idea! I have a right. I'm going out,' " she said.
Curley began panhandling on a freeway ramp in Bellevue, Wash. to raise money for her son's travel, and the remaining $7,000 needed for her son's tuition.
But her drastic measures angered many in her community, fueling online protests. One writer posted: "Shame on her. I can understand people begging for things they need to survive, but not for things they want."
Curley herself said she felt ashamed the first day she begged for money, but then remembered her son's dedication to dancing.
"The first day I held the sign above my face, and then I remembered the hours that my son put in, the chiropractic visits, the sore feet, the ibuprofen, the ice packs that I'd have to switch out every 20 minutes for his back. And I held my head high, and I went for it."
Curley, who is unemployed, told "Early Show" co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez she spent 10 to 14 days on the ramp begging for her son, sometimes in the rain. She raised about $350.
"It got me the gas money that I needed it on get him there," she said.
And Strong, who is now at school in California, said on "The Early Show", his mother did an "amazing" thing for him.
"It's a pretty cool thing, and I'm happy where I'm at now," he said.
The news has also reached his campus. Have students teased him or said anything to him about it?
Strong said the other students are happy for him that he made it to school.
"They think it's awesome basically," he said. "They're like, 'Hey, you're the kid from the news. That's awesome, I'm so excited to meet you."
To her critics that say only homeless people who need essentials have a right to beg, Curley said her case is an exception.
"It's my son's way out of -- I wouldn't call it poverty -- but his way out. Also it's his chance at a college education. All the major colleges come and scout for their dance programs. This is his dream. And I don't have a right to take that from him. I'm supposed to as a parent help him make it."
If you would like to help DJ Strong with his tuition costs, go to DJ's Tuition.com.