Strangers rally together to give 89-year-old man enough money to retire

Fidencio Sanchez.
(Image credit: YouTube.com/BelleCandis)

A chance encounter changed the life of an elderly Chicago man, now finally able to retire at the age of 89.

Joel Cervantes Macias was driving through the Little Village neighborhood when he saw Fidencio Sanchez hunched over, slowly pushing his paleta, or fruit popsicle, cart down the street. Cervantes Macias pulled over, snapped a photo of Sanchez, and purchased 20 paletas, giving the vendor $50. They spoke, and he found out that Sanchez had to keep working in order to provide for his wife and grandchildren; their mother, Sanchez's only daughter, died suddenly in July, and she was their main means of support. "It broke my heart seeing this man that should be enjoying retirement still working at this age," he wrote on a GoFundMe page he set up for Sanchez.

Cervantes Macias posted the photo he took of Sanchez online, and a friend of a friend suggested he start the GoFundMe page. The goal was set at $3,000, so Sanchez could take at least a few days off work, but word spread and thousands of donations began pouring in, surpassing the original target dozens of times over — as of late Monday night, more than 10,800 people have raised more than $238,000. Sanchez's granddaughter, Dulce Perez, told CBS Chicago the money was sent to the family at a time when "we needed it the most. It's just amazing the power of many people can be so big. I'm just very thankful that people had the compassion." Catherine Garcia

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