The cop car pulled up alongside him, but he continued to plod forward. The cop car continued to follow. He had to make it 10 miles to go, and he’d be safe. He looked at his watch and walked faster, his legs burning as he powered on.
But there was no deterring this policeman. Walter Car had moved to Homewood, Alabama, with his mother after tragedy struck. They had hoped to rebuild their lives after their home was destroyed by the monster Hurricane Katrina and wanted a fresh start.
Walter was a twenty-year-old student, but he was determined to work to support his mother. Little did he know just how hard that would prove to be. Walter had heard that there was a position available at Bellhops, a moving company about 20 miles away from where he lived. It was far to travel, but he had his trusty old car, so he drove over and filled in the application and was lucky to get an interview right then and there. He shook the hiring manager’s hand and agreed to start the very next day.
If only it were so easy. Just a few feet away from his driveway, his old car spluttered to a halt. Walter’s heart started to race as he opened the hood and peered inside. Of all days, his car chose this one to finally give in and die. To his dismay, smoke poured from the engine, and he knew that there would be no starting it again.
Walter pulled out his phone to tell the manager of Bellhops that he wouldn’t be starting after all. Then he changed his mind. Walter was young and fit, but still, 20 miles is an impossible distance. But Walter was determined; maybe he could do it. He keyed in the address into Google Maps, then he started to cry in defeat. It would take him 7 hours to get there on foot, and he had no money to get his car repaired. What could Walter do? He needed this job; his mother was unable to make house payments, and they could find themselves homeless again within a month. Walter simply couldn’t let that happen; he had to try.
So he set his alarm for 12 a.m. and tried to get a good night’s sleep. When 12 a.m. rolled around, Walter awoke. He pulled on his most comfortable sneakers, threw on his jacket, and set off into the night. It would take seven hours to get there, but he was determined to reach the Bellhops client on time.
As if walking the backbreaking 20 miles wasn’t enough, life decided to throw Walter another curveball. Walter had started his walk at a brisk pace, but by the time he reached the halfway mark, his legs were shaking, sweat poured from his face, and his feet burned. He had walked over ten miles, and the exertion was taking its toll. The thought of losing his job on the first day kept him going as he focused on moving one foot after the other, again and again.
Then he saw the flash of blue. He had been too focused on keeping his legs moving to notice, but a car had been following him for at least the last ten minutes. It was 4:20 a.m., and he still had miles and miles to go. Then the car flashed its light and blared its short warning siren, and he knew they were there for him. Walter turned his head to see the cop car rolling up beside him.
“Where are you rushing off to, buddy?” the cop asked pointedly. He had had a rough and late night on parole duty, and the last thing he wanted was more trouble. Walter, gasping for breath, tried to answer him without breaking his stride. He was all too aware that the clock was ticking.
The cop had seen enough and ordered Walter into the car. He didn’t care to find out what this young man was doing in the street at this late hour. As far as he was concerned, he was up to no good. But when Walter mustered enough breath to tell him the reason for his late-night walkabout, his eyes widened in disbelief.
Officer Sean Gray had seen many things in his life, but this boy’s determination astounded him beyond belief. They drove the next 6 miles in silence until Walter saw the house appear in the distance. Relief crashed over him like a wave; he had made it before time had run out. He thanked Officer Gray and shakily got out of the car.
But there were still more surprises for Walter on that fateful day. The policeman escorted Walter to the door and told the homeowner, Jenny Hayden Lamely, how he had traveled 14 miles on foot to help her with her move. She was flabbergasted by his dedication.
When the rest of the Bellhops crew arrived, Walter tirelessly got to work loading boxes onto the moving van. He was exhausted, but he kept going. Then Jenny wrote the post on Facebook that exploded overnight. Jenny’s Facebook post read:
“Yesterday was a long day but a good day. Chris and I woke up around 5:45 a.m. to get everything staged and ready for our movers. Hamlet or Bell rang; it was a police officer. He proceeded to tell us that he had picked up this nice kid in Pelham early this morning. The nice kid, Walter, said he was supposed to help us with our move today; it was his first day with his moving company Bellhops, and he was training today.
The officer proceeded to tell us that the previous evening Walter’s car broke down, and he didn’t know how he was going to get to work. So he left Homewood at midnight and started walking to Pelham on 280. He walked all night to get from Homewood to Pelham because he needed to get to work.”
Jenny was so awed by Walter’s determination to get to his job that she started a GoFundMe account to raise the money he needed to repair his car. The target was set at $2,000, but when the Neesons read Jenny’s heartfelt post, the original amount was exceeded by a whopping $32,000.
But soon after, Walter’s actions got the attention of Bellhops CEO Luke Märklin. Märklin immediately got into his Ford Escape and drove it from Tennessee to Homewood. On his arrival, he presented a gobsmacked Walter with the keys. Walter couldn’t believe his eyes; the CEO of Bellhops had just given him his own family car.
It was all too overwhelming, and Walter started to cry. He had never experienced such before. As the whole community rallied behind him and cheered him on, Walter’s exemplary behavior has inspired thousands of people. Jenny’s original Facebook post has since garnered an astounding 2,000 shares and comments.
One commenter wrote, “I’m definitely really touched by his journey as well. It’s impressive how we can give excuses to not do something, but then there are people like Walter who don’t like excuses and just do it.” And another, “Life has made challenges. Walter passed the test. Gracious and humble man. 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 till morning when he could maybe get someone to come pick him up and bring him back home? But he walked until he got here,” Jenny wrote in awe.
Walter’s dedication to his job has become a symbol of the hard-working American, and his determination has even inspired a hashtag movement titled #BeLikeWalter on social media. But Walter remains humble and shrugs off the praise, saying, “I just walked.” He aspires to become a Marine one day, and he has definitely proved to the world that he can achieve anything he sets his mind to.”