In this Jan. 29, 2015, photo, James Robertson walks toward Woodward Avenue in Detroit to catch his morning bus to Somerset Collection in Troy before walking to his job at Schain Mold & Engineering in Rochester Hills. (Ryan Garza/Detroit Free Press/AP Photo)
(UPDATED February 7, 2015) James Robertson of Detroit, Mich., has a 21-mile commute to and from work each day. Except, unlike most people, Robertson makes the long commute to his $10.55 per hour suburban factory job on foot since his car broke down over a decade ago and high insurance rates prevented him from purchasing a new one.
“I don’t think what I do is big deal,” Robertson told People magazine. “I do what I have to do to get to work in the morning. It’s just a part of my life.
“My parents taught me hard work ethic growing up in Detroit,” he added. “It’s all about keeping your schedule on track and focusing your mind on what matters.”
When the Detroit Free-Press first reported the 56-year-old’s story, it became national news. Wayne State University computer student Evan Leedy, 19, said he was so touched by the story that he created a‘GoFundMe’ page to raise funds to buy Robertson a car. The fund, which will be closed on Feb. 8, has received more than $312,000 in donations, to date. And, on Feb. 6, when Robertson visited the Suburban Ford dealership in Sterling Heights to obtain some car brochures, he was given a 2015 Ford Taurus as a surprise gift. Some of the money will go toward the car insurance which is $400 a month.
Leedy and Robertson met for the first time during an interview with People.
“It was so amazing to finally meet James,” Leedy said. “I am really just so happy people trusted that the money was going to him so we can help turn his life around. He deserves it.”
Banker Blake Pollock, 47, of Rochester saw Robertson walk to work every day in any kind of weather through Troy and Rochester Hills, which has no metro Detroit bus services, and contacted the Detroit Free-Press.
Robertson’s daily commute to work starts off by riding a SMART bus from Woodward near Holbrook in Detroit to a bus stop near Somerset Collection, an upscale mall in Troy. From there he walks about 7 miles. After getting off work at 10 p.m. he walks back to the mall and catches the last bus in to Detroit that takes him to the State Fairground at the city’s border. From there he walks home, which takes about 5 miles, according to USA Today.
“I’m always going to be in your debt, I will never forget this,” Robertson told Leedy during their meeting.