A Detroit man who for 12 years walked 21 miles to and from work every day -- and has never been late once -- will get a chance to rest his feet, thanks to the gift of a brand new car.
The story of James Robertson, 56, has captured national attention since it was first reported in the Detroit Free Press last week, and ABC has just named him "Person of the Week."
Robertson began his hike to a job as a factory worker 12 years ago when his car, an aging Honda, gave up on him, and ongoing cutbacks in bus services in Detroit made his daily trek longer and longer.
As he walked about 8 miles to his factory job in Rochester Hills, Michigan, and 13 miles home to Detroit -- there was some bus service on his morning journey -- he never complained, and he was never late for work, not once.
When his story first made the papers, 19-year-old Evan Leeds, a student of computer science at Wayne State University in Detroit, crated a crowd-funding campaign with an initial goal of $5,000.
In 4 days it reached more than $300,000 from 11,400 donors. Leeds wanted to by Robertson a car and insurance, then Suburban Ford of Sterling Heights stepped up to offer Robertson a fully loaded 2015 Ford Taurus at no cost.
The dealership had invited Robertson to test drive some cars and then surprised him with the gift of the Taurus.
"I don't like it, I love it," Robertson said of his shiny new automobile. "If only my parents could see me now."
Dealership manager Jim Elder said he was impressed that Robertson, who lives miles from work, hasn't been late in a decade, noting that some of his own employees who live in Sterling Heights have trouble getting to work on time.
"There's nobody who deserves it more than him," Elder said.
Robertson, for his part, said he hopes what happened to him could help other Detroiters struggling with the city's economic problems, which have greatly impacted its transportation infrastructure.
"The best part of the story was that now it started to get people to talk about the bus system and how fractured it is," he said. "It got people thinking, 'Hey, we've got a problem. We need to fix it."
City officials have acknowledged that there's work to be done.
"[Robertson's] story is heartbreaking and it's not necessary," said CEO Michael Ford of the Regional Transit Authority, noting the agency is working to improve public transportation across Detroit. "There's more that we can do."