'Paleta Man' receives GoFundMe check for $384k
FOX 32 NEWS - An 89-year-old pushcart vendor in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood won't have to push his cart any longer after thousands of people around the world pitched in to help him finally retire.
The GoFundMe campaign raised more than $380k in a matter of days.
For more than a decade, 89-year-old Fidencio Sanchez was a common sight in the Little Village neighborhood, pushing his paleta cart and making a few bucks selling ice cream treats on the streets.
He won't need to push his cart any longer, though, thanks to Joel Cervantes.
"I was driving along 26th street and I happened to see Mr. Sanchez push his cart,” Cervantes said.
Restaurant owner Cervantes was struck by sight of the frail old man still trying to eke out a living.
"It really moved me how people were walking past him not buying any popsicles. I felt, don't you see this man? Can't you have a little compassion?" Cervantes said.
Cervantes whipped out his phone, took this picture and put it on Facebook, which caught the attention of Joe Loea.
FOX 32: Why did you want to do a Go Fund Me campaign for this total stranger?
"Why not?" Loea said.
Loea says he was touched when he learned Sanchez had actually retired, but had to go back to pushing his cart this summer after his daughter died, who had been supporting her parents.
With a modest goal of $3k, the campaign went viral and generated 17,000 donations from 60 countries in a matter of days.
"Everyone just joined in. Pitched in and really spread the word of love. Most beautiful thing I've ever seen really,” Loea said.
On Wednesday, Sanchez and his wife were presented a check for $384,290.
Sanchez said he's overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers and doesn't know what they'll do with all the money, but will start by buying a hearing aid.
With all that money and all that fame, Sanchez and his wife are going to need a good attorney, and they're getting one for free.
"First and foremost what I advise them is not to make any rash decisions. Take their time. Sit down. There's always tax implications,” said attorney Salvador J. Lopez.
For Sanchez, he finally can enjoy a comfortable retirement. For his benefactors, it’s another kind of payoff.
"It just shows everywhere in the world that we're all the same. We're all the same people. Everybody just wants a feel good story,” Cervantes said.