Man who walks 21 miles to work surprised with new car

The man whose story of walking 21 miles to work every day captured America's attention, now has a car.
The story of James Robertson has reached those across the world by now. He's the Detroit man who walks 21 miles to and from work every day and has been doing so for 10 years. 

It all started with a story in Sunday's Detroit Free Press and has blossomed into a phenomenon. A complete stranger even started a GoFundMe for Robertson, which has now collected more than $300,000.

The outpouring of support for the so-called 'Walking Man' continues to roll in, and Friday he was surprised with a new car at Suburban Ford in Sterling Heights. 

Robertson, 56, was greeted with a round of applause at the dealership Friday. 

He looked as if he might cry as he checked out his new car, a red Taurus.

He says he doesn't just like his new car, "I love it," he said.

Finally a new ride for the man whose 1988 Honda sedan broke down 10 years ago. Since then he's been using buses and his boots to get to his job in Rochester Hills from his house in Detroit.

It has been a long time since he's driven a car. The last time he drove, he had a set of keys. Now, he just has a fob. 

Once he heard the sound of the engine, he was overcome with emotion and gratitude.

"He almost started to cry, and I said 'James, you can't do that, you are going to make me cry too,'" said David Fischer, Jr. of Suburban Ford. 

Evan Leedy, the Wayne State University student who started the GoFundMe account, was also emotional.

"It was incredible, I almost started crying," Leedy said. "My goal was just to get him in a 'beater' something to just get him to work and back.

"I had a goal of $5,000 to raise."

Instead the fund has raised over $300,000 and the dealership delivered the Ford Taurus - which was exactly what he wanted.

"The reason I picked the Taurus, I remember the old Taurus from the 1980s," Robertson said. "They never were this fancy or anything, but like me they have a strong heart from the inside.

"I would like to thank all the people who made all the contributions,  you guys are the real heroes as far as I'm concerned."

Lots of heroes in this story - banker Blake Pollock noticed Robertson walking on Crooks Road and started giving him rides a year and a half ago.   

He's the one that got the story to the Detroit Free Press which first spread the story. 

Now he says, James will have to drive him.

"I told him, he gets this car and I'm selling mine and I'm his responsibility now," Pollock quipped. "I am glad he is going to have the independence that a car provides." 

Because it has been a long time since James has driven, a member of the dealership is going to give him a ride in his new car to work and show him the new technology. After he gets his tutorial, he is off to work his perfect attendance record intact, and his trip a whole lot nicer.

"Whenever I step in, it will remind me of where I've been," James said. "And where I'm going right now."

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