Walk on: An inspiring story about people helping someone in need

I used to walk to work most days for about a decade. It wasn’t a great distance, about a half mile from home to work. But I thoroughly enjoyed the exercise, after sitting all day in front of a computer and on the phone.

But I have nothing on James Robertson. By a long shot.

You probably read or saw news coverage of the 56-year-old Detroit factory worker in recent weeks. The first story was in the Detroit Free Press by Bill Laitner.

Every day for the last 10 years, Robertson walked 21 miles by foot to get to and from work, after his former car quit and he couldn’t afford to buy another, plus insurance. And he has perfect attendance at work.

The story spread like wildfire in this age of social media and caught the eye of a Wayne State University student, who posted Robertson’s story on GoFundMe and helped raise more than $350,000 for Detroit’s “walking man.”

Detroit Free Press
Detroit Free Press

He’s also getting a car: a 2015 Ford Taurus, from a Detroit dealership.

A banker who would drive past Robertson on his daily walks stopped to give him a ride one day, and now has put together an unpaid board of advisers to help Robertson manage his money. It will pay for years of Robertson’s car insurance and maintenance, as well as health and dental care, etc.

Robertson’s daily journeys – five days a week, Monday through Friday – included two miles on the Detroit bus system, and his total 23-mile trips took him four hours each way.

Each morning, he left home at 8 a.m., worked his 2-10 p.m. shift, and would get home around 4 a.m. Later, if his walks were slowed by winter snow and ice on the streets and sidewalks.

Detroit Free Press
Detroit Free Press

Laitner pointed out in his story that if you total up the miles, Robertson walked from Detroit to Los Angeles (and back) each year.

These are the types of stories I love, the ones that show how humans always rally around someone in need. Check out the comments and the amounts donors pledged on GoFundMe.

A tip of my hat to Robertson, all those who are lucky enough to walk much shorter distances to their jobs and other destinations, and especially to all those who stepped forward to help a fellow human being in need.

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