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.