Making his own path

Detroit man walks twenty-one miles to work everyday

By Elizabeth Casella
Intern

Photo Credit: abcnews.com

Photo Credit:
abcnews.com

Ever since his 1988 Honda Accord died, James Robertson has had to walk to work. This 56 year old factory worker has been walking a twenty-one mile round trip from his home in Detroit to his job in Rochester Hills. Robertson has never missed a day of work, never been late and has often covered shifts of others who couldn’t make it in. He begins his walk at 8 a.m. for a shift that goes from 2 p.m.-10 p.m. Robertson begins his walk again after his shift ends and usually will not arrive home until 5 a.m. He only receives about two hours of sleep before he starts his routine all over again.

“I set our attendance standard by this man,” said Todd Wilson, plant manager at Schain Mold & Engineering where Robertson works, in an interview with 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!”

Robertson has not been able to replace his car in a decade because he hasn’t had a chance to save for it. His job pays $10.55 an hour, but is not enough for him to buy, maintain and insure a car in Detroit. The city has some of the highest car insurance rates in the country. Three days after the story aired on local Detroit news networks, a 19 year old named Evan Leedy started a GoFundMe page for Robertson. In less than a week of the page being started over $335,500 was raised for Robertson.

“It is really great that people could come together to raise money for this man. He truly needs it for his family and is truly dedicated to his job. He is an inspiration,” said Livonia resident Devin Smith.

In addition to the funds raised for Robertson, Suburban Ford of Sterling Heights invited him to test drive several cars on Feb. 6 and surprised the man with his favorite car at the end of the day. He now owns a 2015 red Taurus that the Ledges Group AAA will provide insurance for.

“A car is what the man needed. A car is then what he received without asking. More companies out there need to help people like this man who truly deserve the kindness of others since they never asked for any help,” said Schoolcraft student Claire McCarthy.

Robertson’s biggest fear during his twenty-one mile walk was going through Highland Park everyday. He was mugged once on his way home, but will not talk about it.

“One word — faith,” Robertson said in response to the question of how he stays calm every night in an interview with the Detroit Free Press. “I’m not saying I’m a member of some church. But just before I get home, every night, I say, ‘Lord, keep me safe,” he continued.

In a video posted to the Detroit Free Press website, Robertson thanked everyone who donated to the GoFundMe page and everyone else who offered him support. He then said that he is thankful that he will now be safe driving to work everyday.