The Detroit Free Press recently published an article about James Robertson, a resident who walks eight miles to work and 13 miles home every weekday. Now, Robertson also has several hundred thousand dollars and a brand new Ford Taurus to his name.
A local dealership heard about Robertson’s plight and donated a 2015 Ford Taurus. A local college student also started a GoFundMe page that raised over $300,000 in a matter of days. ABC’s World News Tonight will also be crowning him as “Person of the Week.”
The 56-year-old Robertson will be featured on the show alongside Blake Pollock, a banker who notified the Detroit Free Press about his story, and Evan Leedy, 19, the Wayne State University student who started the GoFundMe page.
Pollock saw Robertson making his daily commute many times before finally offering him a ride. The men quickly became good friends and now Pollock is looking out for Robertson’s financial situation.
Pollock told the Detroit Free Press, “Putting a car in his driveway and just handing James the keys or filling his pockets with cash is not the answer. But with these resources now, we should be able to do something very positive for the guy.” Pollock is a vice president at UBS.
While Pollock consistently gave Robertson rides to and from work, he was not used to picking up strangers. He said, "I've never picked up a hitchhiker in my life. I don't really think I did anything all that amazing. I was curious."
Robertson’s Honda broke down about ten years ago, but he did not have the money for a new car. He started to walk to work, which became increasingly difficult as the Detroit public transportation system wavered and his employed moved further into the suburbs.
Michael Ford, CEO of the Regional Transit Authority, told the Detroit Free Press, “That story is heartbreaking and it's not necessary. There's more that we can do."
While Robertson’s commute will be considerably shorter, he now has other things to worry about. Pollock is worried about Robertson’s safety because he lives in a very poor part of Detroit and has tried to arrange some kind of security for Robertson.
With that kind of money, Robertson may be able to move to a better part of town.