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Student Walked Over A Dozen Miles To New Job, Admirers Give Him Car And Cash

Walter Carr didn't panic, he made a plan.

The night before his first day of work with a moving company his car wouldn't start. At one point, the college student told Fox & Friends, he'd secured a ride to go from his apartment in Homewood to Pelham, Ala., but that fell through. So he made some calls and sent out more texts asking for help. His buddies were busy or unavailable.

He came up with a new idea: "I mapped out on my phone, How to get to Pelham?" he told the show.

It was about 20 miles away. A seven-hour walk. Carr did the math. He needed to leave by midnight if he hoped to meet his future Bellhops colleagues on time by 7:45 a.m.

Before heading out the door he grabbed a few essentials: wallet, keys, cell phone, chewing gum, and a kitchen knife for protection.

He was making good time for the first part of his odyssey — a cross between walking and jogging, he told The Washington Post. But by 4 a.m., with hours of walking still to go, he was exhausted. He sat for a quick break in a bank parking lot near the entrance of highway ramp.

"I decided I'd rest for a minute because my legs were killing me," he told the Post.

It was the bright lights of a Pelham police car pulling up behind him that jolted him awake, he told Fox & Friends.

One officer asked Carr if he was alright. "It's going to sound really crazy but I'm actually heading to work," Carr told him, launching into an account of the events that had led him there.

The officer and a couple others who had shown up on the scene were moved by Carr's tale. They asked if he was hungry and treated him to a couple of chicken biscuits at a nearby Whataburger.

At 6:30 a.m. one of the officers drove Carr to the house he was supposed to help pack up and move.

Jenny Hayden Lamey opened the door. The officer with Carr gave her a recap, calling him a "nice kid."

"You could tell how the officer told us this story that he had complete admiration for Walter and by my reaction he could tell I did too," Lamey later wrote in a Facebook post.

Despite being early and the only mover there, Carr went straight to work. He and Lamey began chatting. She learned learned a little about his history: He and his mother lost their New Orleans home during Hurricane Katrina.

AL.com reported Carr plans to graduate from Lawson State Community College in December and wants to join the U.S. Marines afterward.

Lamey gushed about Carr's work ethic in the Facebook post:

"He looked at me in the eye and smiled and I felt like I had known him much longer. . I just can't tell you how touched I was by Walter and his journey. He is humble and kind and cheerful and he had big dreams! He is hardworking and tough. I can't imagine how many times on that lonely walk down 280 in the middle of the night did he want to turn back. How many times did he wonder if this was the best idea. How many times did he want to find a place to sit or lie down and wait til morning when he could maybe get someone to come pick him up and bring him back home. But he walked until he got here! I am in total awe of this young man!"

The post resonated with people well out of Lamey's immediate spheres. It's gone viral, reaching readers in Argentina and Germany, among other countries.

Inspired to help him get his car back in working order, Lamey started a GoFundMe account. The goal was to reach $2,000 and two days later, Lamey's fundraising campaign has collected more than $60,000 from about 1,600 people.

Bellhops CEO Luke Marklin told Fox & Friends he read about Carr's journey and made plans to thank him personally. When they met, Marklin handed Carr the keys to his 2014 Ford Escape.

The gift left Carr speechless for the most part.

In a video posted to YouTube by Bellhops, Carr is speechless after Marklin's grand gesture. "Seriously?" he asks, in disbelief.

Moments later he adds, "Thank you."

"Walter has everything he needs to be an incredible Bellhop," Marklin said on television. "He has the heart. He has the grit. everything we're all about. He just needed one thing; He needed a vehicle."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.