CHICAGO - Social media and the kindness of strangers have helped raise over $200,000 for Fidencio Sanchez, an 89-year-old man who spends his days pushing a popsicle cart through Chicago's Little Village neighborhood.
Last Thursday, Joel Cervantes Macías was driving through the neighborhood when he spotted Sanchez struggling to push his cart down the street. Macías pulled over and bought about $50 worth of popsicles from the elderly man. He then snapped a picture of Sanchez and posted it to Facebook.
Once the picture hit social media, Macías was able to learn that Sanchez and his wife recently lost their only daughter, who also helped support them. Joe Loera, who is an associate of Macías, came up with an idea to launch a GoFundMe page to help support the couple on Friday, with the goal of raising $3,000.
On Monday, Loera joined WGN Morning News to discuss what inspired him to reach out and help Sanchez.
"I saw the picture he took, it was such a great picture, such a powerful picture, and it made me think 'Hey, this guy needs a day off,'" said Loera.
It only took him a hour to find out who the elderly man was and why he was selling popsicles.
After finding out they could get in contact with Sanchez, Loera and Macías decided to start a GoFundMe. "Our original goal was, we wanted to make $200 to give him a day off," said Loera.
Thanks to more than 6,000 strangers, the GoFundMe has raised over $140,000 for Sanchez, allowing him to retire his push cart for good.
Loera said, "Honestly, it's just a miracle between God and 6,000 humans, that felt touched the same way I was by this one picture."
As of now, more than $200,000 has been raised for Sanchez. "6,000 people came together to love this one man," Loera said.
Sanchez and his wife are very touched and grateful for the outpouring of support from strangers all over the world. In an interview posted to Facebook, he said he loves working, and plans to continue working. Sanchez also hopes to donate 50% to his local church.
His wife did express concern for their safety now that they've been gifted with such a large amount of money.