Under the blistering heat of the Phoenix, Arizona sun one elderly man works from sunup to sundown to bring in a little extra money for he and his wife. Passerbyers usually see the old man and keep driving, not taking the time to ask him why he sits in a wheelchair with a walker in front of him with a sign that reads “copper coins for sale”.
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One day Lisa Fandrich spotted the “copper man” and was heartbroken that he was forced to be out in the hot summer heat. Just the thought of the man having to work at his age caused tears to form in her eyes. Every day on her commute she would see him and her curiosity about who he was and his story would grow.
“I saw this man this elderly man crossing over the overpass on the 51 in the middle of summer at 8:30 at night pushing his wheelchair and a walker,”Fandrich said. “I would burst out in tears because I felt, why would someone his age have to be out here in the Phoenix heat working? It’s not fair.”
“I just wondered what his story was,”said Fandrich.
So one day she decided to buy the “copper man” some water bottles and talk to him.
“I didn’t see any water so I stopped and got a couple bottles of water and said it’s time for me to hear his story because there’s a reason why he’s here,”Fandrich said. “He told me that he moved here with his wife 36 years ago and they’ve been married for 54 years and he does this to make extra money.”
His name is Paul and he’s on a fixed income and works to bring in extra money for his family. Fandrich asked Paul if she could take a picture with him and he obliged. She went home and shared the picture and his story on her Facebook page.
A news anchor in San Francisco happened to see her post, and was so moved that she shared it, causing it to go viral.
A GoFund Me account was created for Paul the “copper man” and has since raised almost $30,000!
Many others recognized Paul and his copper coins from their daily commutes. “I’m finding out the more this story has blown up that so many people were like me, they’ve driven past him and never stopped and now they know his story,”Fandrich said.
“When I saw that it just pulled at my heart strings, like this is what I should have done a while ago,”said Tyler Karl who befriended Paul a few years ago.
“He stays here until the Church’s Chicken sign goes off most nights just about, rain or shine. He is one of the nicest, most genuine people you’ll ever meet, one of the most trusting people as well,”Karl said.
But when Fandrich and Karl went to Paul’s usual spot to tell him about the outpouring of love he has received, he wasn’t there. Since then no one has been able to locate him.
If anyone knows Paul, Fandrich and others are asking to get in contact with him through the GoFundMe page.
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