Crowdfunding raises $270,000 for US man with 33km daily walk to work

The donations from over 8,000 people will be more than enough to buy a car for 56-year-old James Robertson (above), the subject of a Detroit Free Press article Sunday about his arduous daily commute in the US state of Michigan. -- PHOTO: GO FUND ME
The donations from over 8,000 people will be more than enough to buy a car for 56-year-old James Robertson (above), the subject of a Detroit Free Press article Sunday about his arduous daily commute in the US state of Michigan. -- PHOTO: GO FUND ME

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The story of a Detroit man who walked 33km to work each day sparked a flood of donations to a crowdfunding campaign, raising more than US$200,000 (S$270,000).

The donations from over 8,000 people will be more than enough to buy a car for 56-year-old James Robertson, the subject of a Detroit Free Press article Sunday about his arduous daily commute in the US state of Michigan.

"At the beginning, my goal was just US$5,000," said Evan Leedy, who launched the campaign on the GoFundMe website.

"I just wanted to get him a car to get back and forth to work, but thanks to everyone's generous donations, this is skyrocketed into more than just a car. I want to thank everyone for their continued donations. Every penny will help James in any way that he needs it."

The article described Robertson's daily trek which involved bus rides which only cover a small portion of his commute to his factory job in suburban Rochester Hills, Michigan.

He has made the daily commute mostly on foot for a decade since his 1988 Honda broke down, according to the article, unable to afford a vehicle with his hourly wage of US$10.55 an hour.

Leedy, a 19-year-old student at Wayne State University, told the newspaper he began the campaign with his phone after reading the article and quickly raised several thousand dollars.

The money is aimed at paying for a car and covering costs for insurance, fuel and other expenses.

One auto dealer, Rodgers Chevrolet of nearby Woodhaven, offered to give Robertson a car, either a Chevrolet Cruze or Sonic, The News-Herald newspaper reported.

Even though the fundraising goal was surpassed - with US$226,000 late Tuesday - some people kept donating, inspired by Robertson's story.

"What an inspiration," said Jason Fisher, as he donated US$10.

"I donated because if I am going to continue complaining about capable people choosing not to work... I need to reward the people that have good excuses but choose to overcome by pure determination."