2 Feb 2015

More than $31,000 already raised for 56-year-old Detroit man forced to walk 21 miles to work every day.

A story about a Detroit man who commutes about 21 miles a day on foot to and from work has spurred reaction from across the nation, including social media fundraisers that have netted more than $44,000.
Because buses don't cover the full distance between James Robertson's home in Detroit and his job in Rochester Hills, he walks about eight miles headed to work and about 13 miles home, five days a week. His story — told by Bill Laitner in Sunday's Detroit Free Press — has inspired hundreds to offer money to buy him a car, pay his insurance and to provide professional help in managing the donations.
Robertson said Sunday he was flattered by the attention he'd gotten for his arduous commutes after the Free Press published a front-page story about him -- and amazed that complete strangers would respond so generously, some by offering to buy him a new car and others offering to give him one.
"Are you serious?" he said to a reporter after hearing of one crowd-funding effort alone that, by early Sunday night, had raised $30,000 — $25,000 more than the goal of the originator, a Wayne State University student. 
Evan Leedy, 19, of Macomb Township, a WSU student studying computer science, said he was struck by the article and by the sudden torrent of people commenting online, many of them asking how they could help Robertson. Leedy said he decided to act.
"I just used my phone. I created the go-funding site and within an hour we had $2,000," he said.
"I set the goal at the beginning of $5,000. Right now my page has more than $30,000" as of 6 p.m. Sunday, Leedy said.
Two other people created GoFundMe sites, "so I contacted them so we could coordinate this, and they've raised $3,000," he added.
Leedy said he wanted to take steps that would ensure that the money goes directly to Robertson and that publicity about it doesn't put him at risk of being pressured to share it.
"And I think some of it should be set aside for his insurance and gas and maintenance," Leedy said. 
A Downriver car dealership offered to give him a 2014 Chevrolet Cruz or Sonic. "He gets to choose," said Angela Osborne, customer service specialist at Rodgers Chevrolet in Woodhaven.
"We were just impressed with his determination," Osborne said.
Sales manager Darwin Filey said he read about Robertson after a fellow Facebook friend shared the story with him.
"When I saw the story I said 'wow.' Some people said you guys have got to do something. Then I called my owner and she read the story and said put something together," Filey said.
He said Robertson would have to pay the tax on the car, which would be about $900.


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