James Robertson, of Detroit, Michigan, walks a total of 21 miles to and from work. Every day. Winter and summer.
His story, which was recently published in the Detroit Free Press, inspired Wayne State University student Evan Leedy to raise money to buy Mr. Robertson a car.
Leedy created a Go Fund Me account for Robertson on Feb. 1. His goal was to raise $5,000. But in less than one day, he has raised more than $85,000 from more than 2,000 donors. The money will be used to buy Robertson a car, pay for car insurance, and provide him with financial services to help manage what's left from the donations.
"I just used my phone. I created the go-funding site and within an hour we had $2,000," Leedy told the Detroit Free Press."And I think some of it should be set aside for his insurance and gas and maintenance," he added.
Leedy is also taking steps to ensure that Robertson receives all the money and is not pressured into sharing it.
Robertson has worked at the same job for the past decade, walking each way because there are no bus routes that run between his home in Detroit and his job in Rochester Hills. He was amazed that so many complete strangers came together to help him, according to MLive.com.
Wait. It gets better.
Leedy was not the only one to have the idea of raising money for Robertson. There are two other Go Fund Me pages that are also accepting money for his cause. Leedy contacted the creators of these pages so that they could work together, and all three are still accepting donations.
If you ever question the capacity of Americans to reach out and support a stranger – remember James Robinson.
And wait. It gets better still.
In addition to the monetary donations, two different local car dealerships, Honda and Chevrolet, have offered to donate a car to Robinson.
"When I saw the story I said 'wow.' Some people said you guys have got to do something,” Darwin Filey, sales manager for Chevrolet told the Detroit Free Press. “Then I called my owner and she read the story and said put something together.”
According to Leedy, Robertson and he were scheduled to meet Monday afternoon. The Free Press’s original story portrayed Robertson as the kind of person who prefers to do things on his own and doesn’t like to accept help. But Leedy thinks that he will accept the donations.
"This is more than just an effort to get James a car, and that's truly amazing," Leedy told MLive.com. "There's always negative stuff in the media about Detroit, but this a prime example of how people are willing to help."