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Fifty-six year old James Robertson leaves for work at 8 a.m. to get to work in time for his 2 p.m. shift as an injection molder. When he finishes work at 10 p.m, he starts his trek home. A 21-mile trek, that is. And he walks (yes, walks) the whole 21 miles and has been doing it for over a decade.

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Robertson’s 1988 Honda Accord broke down nearly a decade ago, but the Detroit man didn’t just go out and buy a new one. He weighed in on his options: He makes $10.55 an hour and what it costs to not only buy, but maintain a car as well as have insurance and gas. Needless to say, he decided not to. But he thought that’s not going to stop him from working and that’s when he started walking.

Walking actually helps your cardiovascular system, your heart rate and so many other health benefits. But Robertson doesn’t just make this walk for his paycheck or the health of it. He also cares about the people he has worked with for so many years.

“We’re like a family,” Robertson, who also gets fed dinner every weeknight by the plant manager’s wife, told the Detroit Free Press. “I look at her food, I always say, ‘Excellent. No, not excellent. Phenomenal.’”

After the newspaper article on Robertson was published, Evan Leedy, 19, a student at Wayne State University, became inspired.

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“I was blown away,” Leedy tells PEOPLE. “He has been doing this for so long and doesn’t complain. I thought of myself and how most people could never do what he does every single day.”

As Leedy was looking through the readers’ comments on the story, he saw people asking how they could donate money to help Robertson get a car. Then he got the bright idea of setting up a GoFundMe page where people could donate.

“I set the goal for $5,000,” says Leedy. “But I really didn’t think many people would see it or donate.”

Before he knew it, thousands of dollars were coming in. At last count he’s raised over $227,000.00!  “We now have car dealerships and car companies saying they will donate a car,” Leedy says. “We can now use this money to truly change James’ life.”

“I’m always going to be in your debt — I will never forget this,” Robertson told Leedy when the two met for the first time yesterday for media appearances.

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Despite his long and strenuous commute, Robertson is never late for work. What it takes, he says, is determination and faith.

“My parents taught me hard work ethic growing up in Detroit,” he says. “It’s all about keeping your schedule on track and focusing your mind on what matters.”

Detroit Man Walks 21Miles To Work, Now He’s $200,000 Richer  was originally published on

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