Just a month ago, Detroit resident James Robertson was logging a grueling 21-mile walk to work five days a week that left him with just two hours to sleep and a wage of $10.55 an hour. Nowadays, Robertson's life looks a lot different. His inspiring story published in the Detroit Free Press resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in online donations — you can donate to James Robertson here — that have enabled him to get a new apartment and, more importantly, a car that cuts that hefty commute into a quick 20-minute drive.
While Robertson was extremely humble about
his efforts to get to his job — where he has perfect attendance — the rest of
America was greatly moved and humbled by his tenacity and work ethic. After
Robertson’s car died, he couldn’t afford to buy, insure, and maintain a new car
on his wages at Schain Mold & Engineering. Public transportation didn’t
cover a large part of his commute, so he decided to walk. For the past ten
years, Robertson was walking for hours five days out of the week. But to
Robertson, it wasn’t that big of a deal. He told People:
I don't think what I do is big deal. I do what I have to do to get to work in the morning. It's just a part of my life.
One person, 19-year-old Wayne State University student Evan Leedy, was so impressed by what Robertson was doing that he set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to get Robertson a car. Leedy told People:
I was blown away. He has been doing this for so long and doesn’t complain. I though of myself and how most people could never do what he does every single day.Leedy set the donation goal at $5,000 dollars — his expectations were quickly exceeded. Just a day after he set up the page, over 5,300 people had donated over $149,000. The donations eventually topped $360,000 and an auto dealership donated a new $35,000 Ford Taurus to Robertson, the Associated Press reports. Recently, Robertson used the money to purchase a new apartment in the Detroit suburb of Troy, Michigan.
Robertson's story offers the rare happy ending that so often does not happen in the U.S. economy. His tenacity gives a glimmer of hope that hard work just might pay off.