This inspirational story about strangers launching an online campaign to provide financial assistance for an elderly man proves that it's never too late to retire.
Last week, Joel Cervantes and his friend Joe Loera were driving in the Little Village section of Chicago when they spotted 89-year-old Fidenco Sanchez pushing his popsicle cart down the street. Cervantes, who grew up in that neighborhood but now lives in Wisconsin, was heartbroken to see a senior citizen working so hard when he should be enjoying retirement.
Cervantes pulled the car over and bought about 20 popsicles from Sanchez. He soon learned that the vendor and his wife recently lost their only daughter, and he was selling popsicles to help take care of their two grandsons.
"We thought, 'What are we going to do? We have to pay the bills,'" Sanchez said via a translator to Chicago television station WLS-TV. "It's really hard working out here in the streets, in the summer and cold winter. Even in bad weather we still have to go out and sell and the carts get stuck in the streets."
Before leaving, Cervantes photographed Sanchez and posted the picture to Facebook. People on social media immediately recognized the elderly man.
"A lot of people knew him," Cervantes said, via the Chicago Tribune. "After I put it on Facebook, people started inboxing me and they were like, 'I know that gentleman, he's always around town.' I should've expected it because he sells all across the 26th Street area. If it touches me, I should've known it touches everybody else who sees him."
Feeling compelled to help Sanchez and his family, Loera suggested that they start a GoFundMe campaign. Their initial goal was to raise $3,000. As of September 13, they have raised over $280,000 from over 12,000 donors.
Cervantes and Loera have since been inundated with positive messages thanking them for starting the generous campaign.
"I'm really trying to respond to every single kind message that I am receiving in my inbox and on Facebook," Cervantes wrote on GoFundMe. "Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you to all the people who tag me and have nice things to say. I wish I can respond to every single one of you. I'm trying. Lol! GOD IS GOOD."
Sanchez said he is grateful for all of the donations. Despite the money, he may still occasionally take the cart out for a spin, but this time, it'll be on his terms.