Online Fundraiser Launched For 56-Year-Old Man Who Walks 21 Miles To And From Work

February 2, 2015  |  

Meet James Robertson, 56, who walks 21 miles every day, five days a week, to and from Schain Mold & Engineering where he works. Robertson, who shared his story with Reporter Bill Laitner in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press has now pushed citizens around the United States to pay it forward and raise money for him to purchase a car, pay its insurance and provide professional financial management.

Robertson says he walks 8 miles to work in the morning and then 13 miles in the evening in order to make it home, no matter the weather. The public transportation system in Detroit does not fully extend to Rochester Hills where Robertson works. After reading Laitner’s Sunday report, a Wayne State University student, Evan Leedy launched a GoFundMe online fundraiser for Robertson to purchase a car. Despite setting a goal of $5,000, Leedy’s fund page has currently received $58,249. Michigan’s Downriver car dealership has offered to give Robertson a 2014 Chevrolet Cruz or Sonic. The dealership’s sales manager noted Robertson will only have to pay $900 (which amounts to the tax on the car).

Others have offered to give Robertson their own cars, as well as bus tickets, bicycles and even daily chauffeur services. While the outpouring of support continues to grow, Robertson prepared to walk through Detroit’s snow storm to work the beginning of this week. Robertson who has perfect attendance at work, said his Honda Accord died in 2005 and the Detroit bus cutback its service making his daily commute grow. Although Robertson admitted that he loves to walk, honors his job and coworkers, he knows he cannot keep up with tiresome commute for long. In the meantime, the Detroit bus system may offer a small-bus service that would be able to transport Robertson to work round trip. However, Robertson shared:

“I’d rather they spent that money on a 24-hour bus system, not on some little bus for me. This city needs buses going 24/7. You can tell the city council and mayor I said that.”

Also, if Robertson acquires a car, insurance may be costly running him $5,000 a year (based on Detriot’s car insurance standards). Robertson’s friend UBS banker Blake Pollock said he will create a board of financial advisers who will help Robertson manage the money he receives from GoFundMe.

To read about Robertson’s entire story, click here and here to donate to his special cause.

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  • LJB

    Story is suspect or this dude is superhuman. As an Infantryman we completed forced marches of 12 miles in 3 hours. Assuming he walked at that pace of 4 miles per hour he would have walked 5 hours and 45 minutes one way. That equals 11 hours and 30 minutes per day walking and eight hours at work. He spent his day awake for 19 1/2 hours not counting getting ready for work or bed.

  • Biznite Isyoustupid

    a chevy cruz or sonic? they are out of their rabid minds! I hope he purchases two cars with the money raise.They can shove that cruz or sonic!

    • Lisa

      So I have a camry and now used to have a Honda. Those are the types of cars he should get. And put the rest of the money in the bank. It’s hard to save when you live paycheck to paycheck.

  • Erica

    $5000/year for car insurance!! Detroit should be waaay past ashamed. This city will NEVER ever recover.
    That is beyond ridiculous. If I had to pay that much in insurance, I’d probably walk, ride a bus or ride a bike too. SMH.

    • Yvette

      Detroit will recover. It will not happen over night but we will be back.

  • fineline

    I am NOT inspired by this story. How is it that he works at an engineering plant yet still can’t afford to buy a car- not even an old car from Craigslist-since 2005? Why does he work so far away if he does not have a car? Either he can’t get a job anywhere else, his income is devastating low, or this story is bogus. I wonder if all the people who helped stopped to wonder how many more people are in the same situation and what put them there. Robertson doesn’t need a cookie; he needs some laws.

    • cocoabean93

      I thought the same thing. How has he not been able to at least get him a $2000 car off Craigslist to get him back & forth? Over the course of YEARS. No shade to this little fundraiser thing, but I’m just as curious as you are.

      • JustSaying_IMFO

        Cuz even a $2000 car from Craigslist will cost $2000-5000/yr to insure in Detroit which has the country’s highest insurance rates. That’s 10-25% of this guys income before taxes.

        • cocoabean93

          Ohh see I had no idea. That’s absolutely awful 🙁

    • Tanya

      He makes 10.50 and hour. The story isn’t bogus it has been confirmed by co workers, his boss and the bus driver whom he rides with. Insurance rates here in Detroit are some of the highest insurance the US. So, even if he did get some old car he would still be paying thousands of dollars for insurance. Yes, there are others in need. Right now though this blessing is his!

      • fineline

        “This blessing is his!”

        I do not disagree with that at all, because I sure know I’m not giving up my full ride to appease all the people that can’t afford college. But I like the way you said that-selfish but true. And I never said he shouldn’t get any charity. I just think more should be done for others in his situation.

        • roxy

          According to the article, he doesn’t want the car, but instead a 24/7 bus system for all people who are in the same situation as he is. I don’t understand your logic. He hasn’t ask for anything, however if his story ends with him getting a vehicle and public transportation for all, then maybe, just maybe this is how the story is supposed to pay out. It has to start somewhere and his story may just be the catalyst for change.

          • roxy

            **just maybe this is how the story is supposed to play out. It has to start somewhere and his story may just be the catalyst for change.

    • Yvette

      It’s hard out here and sometimes all the ends don’t meet and you do what you have to do until those ends do meet and unfortunately there is no timeline for that when you have other living expenses etc. I commend him for continuing to push forward and not give up.

    • roxy

      I can see it because there are working poor people out here. A car is a big expense and when you have other expenses that take top priority, like shelter and food, I can see it happening. Plus, the fact that he doesn’t want the car, but 24/7 public transportation for all people speaks volumes.

    • Lisa

      First, it is really really hard to get a job in Detroit.

      Second, I admit to clicking on this post because I needed more information. Being is a particularly skeptical mood at the moment, unrelated to this article. I wonder what other circumstances are.

      I have been told sob stories by a couple men lately. And they all turned out to be BS. Sympathy buys you a lot nowadays.

      What popped into my head was..hey, if you can’t afford a car. How about a bike., scooter, moped. Those would all be far better than walking while much cheaper than a car.

      But perhaps there are other circumstances.

      • JustSaying_IMFO

        He lives in Detroit. You ever try riding a bike or moped in a blizzard? Rain storm? And even a moped will need to be insured.

    • Richard Jamaine Murphy

      He lives in Detroit. Maybe yall don’t realize the state was bankrupt not too long ago. People in Detroit are very poor. he probably does not make a decent salary. it may be the only job he could get. Life hands you circumstances like that. Cant believe how insensitive some of you folk are. I hope you experience a hardship so maybe you’ll understand that life aint all roses.

      • fineline

        I was not being insensitive and I never said this man did not deserve the charity thrown his way. I wrote that comment with the thought that nobody should ever be in this man’s place. His situation is so dire that it does not even make sense. Being poor myself, I still cannot imagine what it is like to live below the poverty line, but I do know America needs to start preventing as much as it treats. Is GoFundMe the new form of reparations or social welfare taken into citizen’s own hands? I don’t think so. People will forget about this man as quickly as they march past the homeless person around the corner.

  • ShyyNicole

    This is a beautiful thing

  • Aaliyah Noelle

    Damn ! He’s awesome. I hate walking to work sometimes even tho it’s only a 15 min walk. He just inspired me to stop being lazy

  • ComeLetsTalk

    Hats off. True definition of work ethic.

  • Yvette

    Kudos to this real man! I love this and I am glad he is being blessed in this way! I’m so glad this story made headlines so now folks know that not all black men are lazy.

    • Secret87

      Who thinks their lazy? To me there active. Any way he will get help because he is trying. Wonder what he plans on doing with the extra money?

      • Aaliyah Noelle

        A LOT of people think black men … Well black ppl in general are lazy. But I know better than that.

        • Shawndrea Rachelle

          A LOT of black people are lazy. Sooo…

          • Aaliyah Noelle

            You’re a dumb arse. Idk what black people you know but the ones I know are very hard working people.
            Maybe you should change up your circle and hang around smart people. I bet your IQ is 12.

            • Shawndrea Rachelle

              Lol are you mad? Internet thugging at its best. Don’t know my IQ but I’m pretty sure it’s > that (math reference, see I’m not THAT dumb lmao) but like I said A LOT of black people are Lazy. Wtf does you knowing black people who aren’t have to do with anything? That STILL doesn’t change the number who are. YOU sound like the dumb b tch if you ask me. Goodday Angry ✌✌✌

              • Aaliyah Noelle

                Do you know every black person personally ? Noooo ! So don’t make such a dumb generalization. Especially being a black FEMALE yourself. Smh.
                Nope. I’m not mad. I’m sitting here relaxing watching Tv. Good night

                • Shawndrea Rachelle

                  I NEVER claimed to! I said A LOT, not all, not most, not every, A LOT. Correct me if I’m wrong, I love hearing other people’s opinions, but don’t come at me side ways when you don’t know me and expect a respectful response. Good night to you too

                • JS

                  Girl, you can’t fix stupid. Shawndrea will be what she will be and that is stupid.

                  • Shawndrea Rachelle

                    Thank you love: ) remember my name please, when I’m a CEO for your nearest fortune 500 you’ll see just how stupid I am.

                    • JS

                      LOL girl, bye.

                    • Shawndrea Rachelle

                      Lol b itch you sound stupid. It’s obviously not bye if you’re still trying to hold a conversation with me. You can leave now. Bye.

                    • JS

                      At the end of the day this man still getting the money from the people who want to help him regardless of your gutter alley opinion. Stay mad AND broke heffa.

                    • Shawndrea Rachelle

                      Lol your deflecting, ignorant as can kiss mine on your way out of my mentions. ✌I’ll stay broke with my $70,000 starting salary boo. Have a nice life.

                    • JS

                      $70k salary and still looking ratchet as hell in that profile pic? LOL ok.

                    • Shawndrea Rachelle

                      Girl bye you love me sooo much don’t you? You obviously don’t have an Africa Diaspora exam to study for do you? Step ya cake up boo I want inspire people like you . You Can leave now lmao

                    • JS

                      Your not stupid, ignorant or ratchet yet you keep trying to prove yourself to some random person on the internet you don’t even know?? Popping off like some internet gangsta and giving me your whole life story like I’m Montel Williams?? I can’t lol, let me stop messing with you, it’s not fair to you anymore. I’m out.

                    • Shawndrea Rachelle

                      Thank you lol why couldn’t you have done that 2 decades ago? Like I said, goodbye boo *kisses*

          • JS

            Do not confuse ‘a lot’ of the black populous with yourself. You know white people benefit the most from affirmative action (white women are considered minorities), food stamps, social security, etc.? and if they didn’t do you think they would be around just solely for black people in the society we live in where we can get shot just for being black on the street? Heck no. Please educate yourself before you speak dear.

            • Shawndrea Rachelle

              Lol 5 whole coments and y’all still haven’t said a thing. Y’all can bring up white people (who I frankly dgaf about), your families, baby daddies, cousins, etc… YET AND STILL doesn’t prove my comment was false. Lol I’ll wait, don’t worry. I love black men, women, people in general. The bottom line is we need to GET IT TF TOGETHER! A LOT OF BLACK PEOPLE ARE LAZY!!! I’m trying to find ways to respond to you but like I said you typed all that and didn’t say s hit. I’m stupid but I’m working towards getting my bachelor degree in a STEM field at University of Minnesota? Watchu doin do boooo booo?? You don’t know me lol, chill. You can keep my name in your mouth tho. I thought it was cute

              • JS

                Yeah I said it… you’re stupid. #byefelicia

          • Richard Jamaine Murphy

            Most people are lazy. It kills me. That stereotype was created by white men who enslaved black men to pick their cotton. So whos really the lazy ones?

            • Shawndrea Rachelle

              A lot of black people are lazy, A lot of black people are lazy lol y’all keep bringing up other people. Take accountability for once, please. A lot of black people are lazy. I’ll say it until y’all move on to the next article. A lot of black people are lazy A lot of black people are lazy a lot of black people are lazy A lot of black people are lazy muchas personas Moreno son perezosos A lot of black people are lazy A lot of black people are lazy A lot of black people are lazy A LOT of black people are lazy A lot of black people are lazy

          • chevy

            You’re and idiot, seem like you’re lacking ordinary quickness and keenness of mind. I seen a lot of lazy white people in this country.

            • Shawndrea Rachelle

              Why are you trying to talk to me? You said nothing none of the other thots didn’t. Goodbye to you too.

              • chevy

                I’m exercising my first amendment rights just like you are. But I seen your type, I call it Nitpicking.

  • Natural

    He’s a great example of people who need and love to work. I applaud him!

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  • Guest

    Wow! Such a great and inspiring story. What a way to start the week.

    • roxy

      Yes it is…..if he doesn’t think he will be able to afford the insurance, maybe they will give him an older vehicle that only need liability. A good older vehicle.

      • Tanya

        No fault in Detroit is still around $300 a month. Detroit has the highest insurance rates in the US…it’s ridiculous!