Rosa Flores/CNN
Now playing
01:15
Internet raises over $200k for popsicle man
Fox News/Twitter
Now playing
01:33
ADL wants Fox News to fire Tucker Carlson over racist comments
CNN
Now playing
02:36
The truth behind Covid-19 vaccines for sale on the dark web
Now playing
04:22
Levi's CEO has message for Mitch McConnell
Now playing
01:54
'You think I'm racist': Former Fox News host storms off camera
Korie Robertson and Willie Robertson of the reality series "Duck Dynasty" attend the Capitol File 58th Presidential Inauguration Reception at Fiola Mare on January 19, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Paul Morigi/Getty Images
Korie Robertson and Willie Robertson of the reality series "Duck Dynasty" attend the Capitol File 58th Presidential Inauguration Reception at Fiola Mare on January 19, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Now playing
01:46
'Duck Dynasty' stars discuss raising biracial son on new show
FOX/"The Masked Singer"
Now playing
01:24
Nick Cannon makes big splash in 'Masked Singer' return
The Drew Barrymore Show/YouTube
Now playing
01:26
'Mom' star speaks out about not having kids in real life
Heinz ketchup packets are shown in New York on Monday, August 22, 2005. H.J. Heinz Co., the world's biggest ketchup maker, said first-quarter profit fell 19 percent on expenses to cut jobs and sell businesses.  (Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Heinz ketchup packets are shown in New York on Monday, August 22, 2005. H.J. Heinz Co., the world's biggest ketchup maker, said first-quarter profit fell 19 percent on expenses to cut jobs and sell businesses. (Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Now playing
01:53
Restaurants face a nationwide ketchup packet shortage
Camerota Berman both
CNN
Camerota Berman both
Now playing
02:33
CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota gets surprise tribute from co-anchor
Citigroup Chairman Richard Parsons delivers remarks on the US economy at the New York State Bar Association meetings in New York, January 28, 2009. Troubled US banking giant Citigroup last week named Parsons as its new chairman, the longtime top executive at media giant Time Warner, to steer it through its most challenging period.  AFP PHOTO / Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)
EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/AFP via Getty Images
Citigroup Chairman Richard Parsons delivers remarks on the US economy at the New York State Bar Association meetings in New York, January 28, 2009. Troubled US banking giant Citigroup last week named Parsons as its new chairman, the longtime top executive at media giant Time Warner, to steer it through its most challenging period. AFP PHOTO / Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
02:47
Dick Parsons: Georgia law is a bald-faced attempt to suppress Black vote
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture
Now playing
02:54
'Godzilla vs. Kong' is a pandemic box office hit
Now playing
01:30
5 ways to cut your plastic waste
CNN/Getty Images
Now playing
04:40
Stelter: After elevating Gaetz, Fox News barely covering scandal
NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona
Now playing
01:08
See NASA spacecraft successfully land on an asteroid
Now playing
06:51
Alisyn Camerota's kids wish her good luck in new role on CNN

Story highlights

A customer set up a GoFundMe page for Fidencio Sanchez, 89, who pushes a popsicle cart

Thousands of people donated

(CNN) —  

Fidencio Sanchez, 89, has been selling paletas, or popsicles, in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood for as long as almost anyone can remember.

He shuffles up and down the streets, pushing a freezer cart stocked with icy treats and ringing a bell to attract customers.

Sanchez always has a smile on his face. And his work ethic is unwavering. But his aging knees are not keeping up.

“I feel my body is starting to give up on me,” he told CNN. “At some point, it’s not going to have the capacity that it used to. But I don’t want to stop working.”

Soon he won’t have to worry so much. A customer was so moved by the hard-working Sanchez that he bought 20 paletas for $50 and then created a GoFundMe page for him, seeking $3,000. On the page is a photo of the stooped Sanchez in a yellow Poncho Paletas cap, struggling to push his cart.

Within hours, support from all over the world started to pour in. Three days later, donations exceeded $250,000. By the end of the fundraiser, fans of Sanchez had raised more than $380,000. This week, the two people who set up the campaign presented Sanchez with the check.

Sanchez told ABC he hopes to buy a house for him and his wife, and may indulge in some hearing aids.

A few popsicles become a movement

“It broke my heart seeing this man who should be enjoying retirement still working at this age,” said the customer, Joel Cervantes Macias. “I think the picture pulled at a lot of heartstrings … and that is one of the reasons a lot of people are donating. It shows that people appreciate hard work.”

Fidencio Sanchez with his popsicle cart.
Rosa Flores/CNN
Fidencio Sanchez with his popsicle cart.

Last week, CNN caught up with Sanchez as he walked to work in this neighborhood southwest of Chicago’s downtown Loop, wearing his yellow cap and pushing a cart full of popsicles.

“I’m very grateful and very happy,” he told CNN when asked about his unexpected windfall. “And I’ll stop working soon.”

Well, maybe. While most people his age would probably retire immediately, Sanchez said he’s still not sure he is ready to stop working. It’s what’s he’s done all his life. Sanchez said he was orphaned at 6 months and has been working to support himself since he was 13 – first in the fields of his native Morelos, Mexico, and since 1990 in Chicago.

Recent years have been hard on him and his family, though. His wife can no longer work, and their daughter, who cooked meals for them every day, recently died. Children are not supposed to die before their parents, Sanchez said.

“When she died I felt so much pain,” he told CNN, fighting back tears. “I thought, ‘What am I going to do now?’”

Sanchez with Joel Cervantes Macias, left, and Jose Loera, who set up his GoFundMe page.
Rosa Flores/CNN
Sanchez with Joel Cervantes Macias, left, and Jose Loera, who set up his GoFundMe page.

A movement becomes a ‘miracle’

Gilberto Bahena, Sanchez’s pastor at his neighborhood church, calls the outpouring of financial support a miracle.

“It’s for sure an answer to their prayers,” Bahena said. “This man has really been faithful to the Lord. This man has a good heart.”

Blanca Gutierrez, Sanchez’s boss and the owner of the popsicle business, said the elderly man is one of the hardest workers she knows. Sanchez works year-round, even through Chicago’s bitterly cold winters, she said.

And while Gutierrez has been concerned about Sanchez working at his advanced age, she hasn’t had the heart to tell him to stop.

“I didn’t want to tell him that I wasn’t going to give him a cart (of popsicles) because I know he would feel sad,” she told CNN. “He says he wants to die walking.”