Detroit Man Who Walks 21 Miles to Work Is Rewarded by Strangers

Stephen A. Crockett Jr.
Detroit skyline
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Detroit native James Robertson's 1998 Honda Accord quit on him some 10 years ago, but he didn't quit on life. For 10 years since losing his wheels, Robertson has walked some 21 miles a day, to and from his house in Detroit to his factory job in Rochester Hills, Mich., and in more than 10 years, Robertson hasn't missed a day of work. 

The Detroit Free Press Sunday profiled Robertson and the journey that takes him from his home starting around 8 a.m., which gives him enough time to make his 2 p.m. shift. He then works till 10 p.m. and rewinds his trek back home. With no buses to take him directly to and from his job, the path he takes is a mix of timing, walking and more walking. He has done this five days a week, in Detroit weather, for 10 years. And, it needs repeating, he hasn't missed a day. Robertson told the newspaper that he doesn't make enough money to afford a car, and with no co-workers living near him, he isn't able to catch a ride.  


"I set our attendance standard by this man," his boss, Todd Wilson, told the Detroit Free Press. "I say if this man can get here, walking all those miles through snow and rain, well, I'll tell you, I have people in Pontiac, 10 minutes away, and they say they can't get here—bull! He's never missed. I've seen him come in here wringing wet."

Robertson, who notes that his power walks and commitment are fueled by copious amounts of Mountain Dew and a kinship with his work family, didn't think anything of his story when he told it to the reporter for the Free Press; it was just routine. But his words reached the heart of 19-year-old Evan Leedy, who read Robertson's story on Facebook.

"What he walks is like me walking to work every day, and I honestly couldn't believe that," Leedy told ABC News. "I thought to myself, 'What would I do if my car broke down?' and I thought, 'I have my parents and I have money to get an Uber.'

"This guy doesn’t have that and he didn’t quit," Leedy said.

Leedy created a GoFundMe page and within a day raised some $150,000, and that number is expected to grow. Leedy added that he received calls from several car dealerships offering to give Robertson a car.


"We are in a position that we can help, and we just want to pay it forward," Angela Osborne, a customer-service specialist at Rodgers Chevrolet, told ABC News. "His story really struck home."

On Monday evening, Robertson and Leedy got a chance to meet. According to the Detroit Free Press, which chronicled their visit, the two shared an embrace and then Leedy showed him all the glowing comments people made about Robertson and his incredible work ethic.


"I'm always going to be in your debt," Robertson told Leedy, according to the newspaper. "I will never forget this."

Read more at the Detroit Free Press and at ABC News.

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