Crowdfunding has once again helped a man who used to walk 21 miles to work, and take two bus rides, nearly everyday. James Robertson, who commuted from Detroit to his job in Rochester Hills, has now been helped through crowdfunding with a new apartment in a better neighborhood and closer to his job. What once took longer hours than his eight-hour work shift, his commute to work is now only a 20-minute car ride in his new car, which crowdfunding previously helped him get.
Crowdfunding has been a major item of the news in recent years, as its opportunities have opened up the door for people to publish their own books, attend summer camps, make movies, get start-up funds and much more. But as one teenager, started up a crowdfunding campaign for Robertson, he wrote that he never imagined he would have the privilege to change a man’s life.
It all started when Robertson received national media attention after it was mentioned to the media that he walked 21 miles everyday for work. In addition to his two bus rides per day, James walk home from work, due to the city cutting back on bus routes, caused him to only get two hours of sleep per night. After Robertson’s car broke down, his $10.55 per hour did not allow him enough money to save up for a new car, especially as he was paying $880 per month to his ex-girlfriend/landlady for the place he rented.
The hassle seemed never ending for James as he lived this way day after day, until a complete stranger heard of his struggle and decided to help out through crowdfunding. Leedy, started the crowdfunding page on GoFundMe.com, where he stated that he did not know if it would work, but thought that even a few hundred bucks raised would help Robertson to buy a car. Little did he know, that a local auto dealer, Suburban Ford in Sterling Heights, would give James a new Ford Taurus, the car he specifically told reporters on national news that he would want if he could choose one. He said that the car was like him, simple on the outside, strong on the inside.
But the free car given to Robertson still did not keep over 13,000 people from donating to the crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe. Overall the crowdfunding for James Robertson raised $349,904. After the donations added up quickly, Leedy pulled the plug with Robertson’s permission, as Robertson stated he did not want to appear greedy and did not even need that much money. He stated that he was grateful for the donations but wanted the money to start going to others in need.
After crowdfunding gave Robertson over $300,000 in funds, and since the generous car donations meant he did not have to buy a car (even though he still had to pay taxes on it), it was clear that he was not going to make it in his old neighborhood. After news coverage of his crowdfunding earnings got out, he said people were asking him for money and his ex-girlfriend/landlady started saying he owed her tons of money. According to sources, she said Robertson promised to give her $50,000 of the crowdfunding money to fix up the house. She also stated that she expected a share of his crowdfunding earnings. Robertson said that the ex, Tanya Fox, kept showing up at his work making scenes. Eventually he put out a restraining order against her. The car company also put a tracker on his new car, in case it was stolen.
Due to fears of James living in his old neighborhood after making nationwide coverage over his crowdfunding campaign, the financial experts who had stepped in to help him manage his new crowdfunding money, decided a new place to live would be best for him. The financial experts, one of them who is his new friend, stem from several top financial agencies. The people now involved in Robertson’s case help millionaires manage their funds, but their work for Robertson is pro bono. They want to help him manage his nest egg so that it will last for his retirement. As well, a smaller group of advisers are helping him manage his immediate funds, along with Leedy who started his crowdfunding campaign.
Robertson, who use to walk 21 miles to work, was again helped by crowdfunding as his funds allowed him to get an apartment in a better neighborhood. His new group of friends helped him find an apartment that is $80 less than what he was paying to his ex-girlfriend/landlady. Robertson has made some other lifestyle changes since his move, as well. He has said he will quit drinking as much soda and go to water, and he quit making his small trips to casinos. Robertson also has to watch what he eats more, as he is not getting his usual 21 miles of exercise everyday. Though the crowdfunding money raised will help Robertson live well, he hopes to save it for retirement and plans to continue working at his job at Schain Mold & Engineering.
By Crystal Boulware