James Robertson, Detroit's "Walking Man," walks no more, thanks to the generosity of the public.
The Detroit Free Press is reporting that a Suburban Ford dealership in the Sterling Heights part of Detroit has donated a brand new car so the Walking Man doesn't have to make the 21-mile round-trip commute to work and home for the past ten years.
Robertson, who lives in Detroit, would take a bus to Somerset Collections in nearby Troy. The Walking Man would then walk the remaining eight miles to his job at Schain Mold and Engineering as a plastic injection molding machine operator. Once work was over, the Walking Man would trek the 13 miles home at night since there was no bus service at that time.
Robertson did have a car when he started working at Schain, an older model Honda that broke down after two years on the job. Making $10.55 an hour, it was almost impossible to get the money to fix the Honda, or get a new or used car. So, the Walking Man walked.
Coincidentally, Robertson has perfect attendance for the 12 years he has worked at Schain, even with all that walking.
Into the scene comes Blake Pollock, a banker who passed Robertson, 56, on their ways to work for years. One day, Pollock pulled over and offered Robertson a ride. Robertson accepted, and the two began a friendship. The Walking Man eventually told Pollock his story.
WMAZ 13 is reporting that Robertson's workplace had relocated from Madison Heights to Rochester Hills, while the bus coverage was continuously cut back. That's where Pollock's effort came in.
Pollock shared Robertson's story with the Detroit Free Press. Evan Leedy, a student at Wayne State, saw the story and began a GoFundMe campaign in the Walking Man's behalf to raise money to help him buy a car. It was then that things broke Robertson's way, and quickly.
First, the Suburban Ford dealership presented the Walking Man with a 2015 Ford Taurus, a car Robertson had told Pollock he had wanted for a long time. The car, valued at $35,215, was given to Robertson as a gift. So whatever was collected for the GoFundMe effort would be used for insurance for the car and other bills. As of now, the effort has collected near $333,000 in six days from over 12,637 donations.
Suburban Ford dealership manager Jim Elder said the biggest reason that he felt the Walking Man deserved the car was because of the Walking Man's perfect attendance, in the face of his obstacles getting to and from work.
"There's nobody who deserves it more than him," Elder said.
[Image courtesy of freep.com]