Touched by the photos of James Robertson battling through rain and snow on his 21-mile daily commute to work, Americans reached deep into their wallets to help out the dedicated factory worker, whose GoFundMe page has raised more than $230,000 so far, and the total is rising fast.
Ever since, Robertson’s aging Honda Accord broke down on him a decade ago, he hasn’t been able to afford a replacement, forcing him to do his daily commute to his $10.55-an-hour factory job on foot.
Robertson lives 23 miles away from his work place and has worked a 2 pm – 10 pm shift for the past 12 years — and has never missed a shift. As only a part of his journey is covered by bus routes, 21 of the 46-mile round trip is covered on foot. He walks eight miles on his way in way in and on the way back he faces a 13-mile walk, as some services have finished by that time. (Scroll down for the video.)
1. James Robertson, 56, walks 21 miles a day to get to his $10.55-an-hour factory job in Detroit, Michigan.
2. Robertson, who is now the recipient of a $190,000 pot on the GoFundMe website, is pictured above with college student Evan Leedy, who started the project.
However, Robertson’s punishing hikes now seem like a thing of the past, as the surging total on his GoFundMe donations page passed $230,000 on Tuesday.
For this money, Roberston could comfortably get his hands on some of the flashiest cars on the market, including a convertible Aston Martin V8 Vantage (about $138,000), a Maserati Granturismo ($132,000), or a Lamborghini Gallardo (from $181,000).
However, the machine operator, who told The Detroit Free Press that American cars are more his style, said that all he wants is a Ford Taurus, which will only set him back some $27,000. He said:
I’m a Ford fan. I remember the Taurus. They look comfortable, nothing fancy. They’re simple on the outside, strong on the inside — like me.
I’m 6-foot and I think the Mustang’s a little tight… I mostly stay with Americans cars — Lincoln, Fords, GM, Dodge.
3. The modest Ford Taurus, above, is the car Robertson has said he’d most like to spend his money on.
4. Robertson has a perfect attendance record at work, and has battled heat, rain and cold alike to make it on time for the past 12 years.
The GoFUndMe fundraising campaign for Robertson was initiated by Evan Leedy, a 19-year-old college junior who read his story and decided to help raise money for him — the goal was only $5,000. But in just two days, more than 8,600 people have donated, with individual contributions as high as $2,000.
Leedy and Robertson met on Monday night at a bar in Rochester, Michigan, before a round of national press interviews. Robertson said:
I’m always going to be in your debt — I will never forget this.
Evan responded by showing him some of the comments left on the donation page — many of which said that Robertson deserved the money for his decades of hard work.
The fund was initially intended simply to get Roberston — who hasn’t driven since 2005 — a new car, but it could now do much more.
In addition to the car itself, which some local dealers have offered to give to him for nothing, the cash will help with medical and dental expenses, as well as longer-term commuting expenses like gas, repairs and insurance.
The interviews and meeting were arranged by Blake Pollock, a UBS banker who saw Robertson’s commute, and has sometimes given him rides, and was the first to tell the press about him. Pollock has now organized a group of advisers to manage the ever-growing fund, which is now many times larger than his annual wage.
5. Robertson takes a bus for just over half of his 46-mile-a-day trek, but still puts in almost half on foot.
6. Robertson stops to pray during a break at the factory in the Detroit suburb of Rochester Hills where he works.
And here is the video:
To watch the video in full, click here.
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