It all started with a picture.
Joel Cervantes Macias was driving through the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago when he spotted Fidencio Sanchez pushing his paleta (popsicle) cart. Immediately moved, Joel took a photo of the 89-year-old man and then bought 20 paletas.
Later, when the picture he snapped started getting shared on Facebook, Joel’s friend Joe Loera came up with an idea: Why not start a GoFundMe campaign to give Fidencio a well-earned break?
No one could have predicted what happened next — more than 17,000 donors from around the world raised over $380,000 for Fidencio. The outpouring of support shocked and delighted Joel, Joe, and most of all, Fidencio.
Now that Fidencio has received the retirement gift of a lifetime, what to make of this incredible moment? Campaign organizer Joe Loera put it best: “None of us know each other, but we all came together to help someone we all felt needed it. This is a true example of people showing love for one another and how we can together accomplish something beautiful and greater than ourselves.”
Joel changed a stranger's life forever on his daily drive. You could be someone's hero, too.
Pay it forward: Start a GoFundMe campaign for someone in need.
Fidencio the Paleta Man in the News
Chicago Tribune: Chicago’s summer of violence — and compassion: “It’s been a banner year for grim and grimmer: a bitter presidential election, a barrage of terrorist attacks and Chicago’s summer of violence. One thing readers in 2016 crave: good news. That’s why the story of a stranger raising more than $369,500 in seven days to help 89-year-old Fidencio Sanchez caught our attention.”
DNAinfo: ‘Paleta Man’ Accepts $385,000 Check, But He Won’t Give Up Work: “Sanchez, almost hidden behind the check, laughed and thanked the people who had donated to him, saying he was happy. ‘He said he’ll never forget this, and he thanks everybody, and most of all he thanks God,’ Cervantes said, translating for Sanchez.”
CBS News: 89-year-old Chicago “popsicle man” gets big payout after Internet rallies: “Sanchez lost his one and only daughter in late July. She was his main means of support, and he is now also taking care of his grandchildren. ‘After my mom’s passing, they felt more burdened to not miss any days,’ said Perez. Now, he has the opportunity to rest — thanks to the generosity of strangers.”