James Robertson of Detroit walks 21 miles to and from work, making his daily commute an astounding eight hours. Leaving at 8 a.m. to be on time for his 2 p.m. shift as an injection molder at Schain Mold & Engineering, the 56-year-old has made the commute since 1988 after his car broke down. Through heavy snow, Robertson makes the trip to work, every day, Monday through Friday, earning his perfect attendance status at the plastic parts manufacturer where he makes $10.55 an hour.
Robertson has caused some stir thanks to Evan Leedy, 19, a Wayne State University student. After reading an article from the Free Detroit Press about James Robertson’s commute, the student was moved to help.
“I just used my phone. I created the go-funding site and within an hour we had $2,000,” he said.
It’s not the first time that others have helped Robertson. He receives offers to be driven from time to time. There has even been talk about a new federal program that could provide him with a pick-up service to and from his home. His response?
“I’d rather they spent that money on a 24-hour bus system, not on some little bus for me. This city needs buses going 24/7. You can tell the city council and mayor I said that.”
It is probably Robertson’s dedication to his work ethic and his humble reasoning that has generated more than $64,000 as of Monday afternoon.
“Are you serious?” he said to a reporter after hearing about the amounts of money being raised on his behalf.
Donations flood in for Detroit man who walks 21 miles a day to work because he can't afford a car http://t.co/KjB6M8Sky4— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) February 2, 2015
Leedy added that he coordinated with other donors to ensure that multiple fundraising efforts were joined and given to Robertson. Noting that the original goal was to raise money for a car, Leedy wants to make sure people don’t view this influx of money as an opportunity to seek help from Robertson himself. The fundraising effort is meant to give the hardworking man more options to facilitate his life and ensure his health (and safety) as he gets older.
“And I think some of it should be set aside for his insurance and gas and maintenance,” Leedy said.
As it turns out, the Detroit man who walks 21 miles to work may be getting a car donation from Rodgers Chevrolet in Woodhaven, according to Angela Osborne.
Osborne added, “We were just impressed with his determination.”
There have been over a hundred other offers for assistance to buy Robertson a car, bus tickets, bicycles and car service benefits. He even received an offer from a self-employed man in Madison Heights who said he could drive Robertson to and from work for free.
Robertson doesn’t seem negative about his commute. Noting that he enjoys being outdoors and walking, the Detroit man is looking forward to making things work for himself after receiving the donations.
“I can work that insurance thing out. It might be tough, but my dad used to say, tough times don’t last — tough people do.”
To protect James Robertson from anyone who would take advantage of his donation money, he has a few people already looking out for him. Banker Blake Pollock, who has often given James rides to work, is setting up a board to ensure the money stays with James.
The GoFund site that Leedy set up is still active and raising funds. In just one day, there have been over $71,000 raised by donors.
[Photo courtesy of Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press]