When an Alabama college student’s car broke down the night before his first day at a new job, there was one thing he knew he wouldn’t do: Not show up.
So he walked to work. For 20 miles.
After he asked someone for a ride and it fell through, Walter Carr walked all night from Homewood, Alabama, south to Pelham. He needed the job at Bellhops moving company, even though his phone told him it would take him seven hours on foot.
“I’ve never been that person that gives up,” said Carr, 20. “I’ve just never seen myself doing that. I can only be defeated if I allow myself do be defeated.”
And what began as a man determined to get to work on time became so much more – a community coming together to change a life.
Local police officers helped him
Carr began his journey about 11:40 p.m. Friday in Homewood, a suburb of Birmingham. He made it to Pelham by about 4 a.m. Saturday, but still had a ways to go before he reached the address of the woman he was hired to help move.
Pelham police officer Mark Knighten was making rounds in his patrol car when he saw Carr sitting on the ground, catching his breath. Because it was so late, Knighten pulled over to see what was going on.
“Less than a minute from hearing his story, we were like, wow, this kid seems determined,” Knighten said.
Knighten and his two partners took Carr to breakfast and got him lunch to go. Then they took him to a church to rest before his shift started at 8 a.m.
When Carr continued his walk to work several hours later, another officer found him and drove him the rest of the way to the Pelham home of Jenny Lamey.
Because Carr was early, Lamey asked if he’d like to rest upstairs in her house until the rest of the movers arrived. He said no and got to work.
Lamey was impressed by Carr’s story and shared her thoughts later on Facebook.
“I just can’t tell you how touched I was by Walter and his journey,” she said. “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!”
Then his employer stepped up
When Bellhops CEO Luke Marklin learned of Carr’s story through Lamey’s Facebook post, he was impressed by Carr’s determination and character.
“We are a company that is trying to change a broken, not customer-friendly industry,” Marklin said. “We’re trying to transform that with a lot of heart and a lot of grit. And when I read that story on Sunday I was blown away, and I couldn’t think of a better story of what this company is all about.”
Marklin decided that since the only thing standing in the way of Carr excelling at his company seemed to be reliable transportation, he would do something about it.
So he gave Carr his own 2014 Ford Escape.
“It seemed like the car was going to be put to a lot better use,” Marklin said. “He’s just awesome. He’s our role model.”
Inspired by Carr’s story, Lamey started a GoFundMe campaign to help him out and set the campaign’s goal at $2,000. As of Tuesday evening, it had raised more than $11,000.
Carr is in awe of the support he has received.
“I’m still in shock,” Carr said. “I thank him [Marklin] … I thank everyone for taking their time to listen to my story.”