When Walter Carr’s vehicle broke down the night before he started his new job, he decided to walk to work. Perhaps unsurprisingly, his boss was stunned when he found out about his employee’s 20-mile journey. So the CEO did something to say thank you – and his actions left Carr in tears.
Carr is a student at Lawson State Community College in Birmingham, Alabama. He is due to graduate with an associate’s degree in health sciences in December 2018. After that, the 20-year-old hopes to join the Marines for a while, before completing a four-year degree so that he can eventually work as a physical therapist.
The young man was recently hired by Bellhops moving company. The business was originally started to help college students living in dorms and now offers moving services across more than 25 cities in the U.S. When his first day came around in July 2018, Carr wanted to impress.
But the day before his very first moving job, his 2003 Nissan Altima broke down. Carr called several friends to try and find someone who could give him a ride from his apartment in Homewood to the job in Pelham. However, when no one could help him, he wasn’t going to give up.
Carr had to be at the Lamey family’s home at 8:00 a.m. and he didn’t want to let anybody down. So he decided that he would walk to work. Carr calculated it was a 20-mile journey and would take him 45 minutes to drive. That equated to approximately seven hours on foot.
Carr set off at midnight, allowing himself an extra hour to rest along the way. He had a quick four-hour sleep before starting the arduous trek that took him down Highway 280. Carr admitted to Inside Edition, “It was a long 20 miles, but I did it.”
Sometime around 3:00 a.m., the college student stopped for a rest. That’s when Pelham police officer Mark Knighten spotted him. He was worried about Carr’s well-being and pulled over to check nothing was untoward.
Knighten and Carr started talking, and as the young man explained why he was walking alone at night, the officer couldn’t believe it. “He just is showing that work ethic and the determination to get to the job,” the policeman told Inside Edition. Impressed, Knighten and his partners took the new starter to a nearby Whataburger and bought him breakfast.
After verifying Carr’s story, the cops then gave him a ride to the Lamey family home. Jenny Lamey and her husband Chris were already up and getting furniture ready for the movers when the doorbell rang at 6.30 a.m. Knighten was standing outside with Carr and the police officer informed the couple of what had happened.
“You could tell how the officer told us this story that he had complete admiration for Walter and by my reaction he could tell I did too,” Lamey wrote on Facebook. “I asked Walter if he wanted to go upstairs and rest until everyone else arrived. He declined and said he could go ahead and get started. So he began working alongside Chris and I before the rest of the crew arrived.”
Carr told Lamey that he and his mother had relocated to Birmingham after losing their home in Hurricane Katrina. And he admired her kitchen because its comfort reminded him of his former house in New Orleans. As the Bellhops staff moved the family into their new home, Lamey encouraged Carr to tell the other members of the crew about his trip to work – and they were just as astounded as she had been.
“I just can’t tell you how touched I was by Walter and his journey. 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,” Lamey wrote. “But he walked until he got here! I am in total awe of this young man!”
Lamey’s Facebook post about Carr went viral and received over 10,000 likes. Moreover, it wasn’t long before Bellhops found out what their new recruit had done to prove his dedication to the job. And Luke Marklin, who became the firm’s CEO last year, knew that he didn’t want Carr to ever have to trudge to work again.
So he arranged to meet up with Carr to say thank you and buy him a coffee. But the generous boss ended up doing far more than that. Marklin drove all the way from Tennessee to see his employee and presented him with a very special thank-you gift: his own 2014 Ford Escape that had hardly been driven.
“It’s in much better hands with you than it is with me,” Marklin said to Carr. As he handed over the keys, the student was clearly overwhelmed. And Lamey and her family were there to watch the touching moment the young worker was rewarded for his perseverance.
“You’ve changed all of our lives, Walter. You have no idea how many lives you’ve changed and inspired,” Lamey told him as they shared an emotional hug. “You’re a very special young man and you’re going to do great things. You already have.” Her kind words brought the 20-year-old to tears.
Before Carr received the SUV, Lamey had started a GoFundMe page to pay to fix the young man’s broken vehicle. The goal was $2,000 but within two weeks, contributors had donated over $90,000. Carr revealed that he would be donating a portion of the funds to the Birmingham Education Foundation, which he had been a part of in high school.
Although Carr was astounded by his boss’ generosity, Marklin said he felt compelled to do something to repay his employee for his commitment. He told Fox & Friends, “There are certain things that are just the right thing to do. And when we heard that story, we were blown away and I just knew that we had to do something. I would give our employees the shirt off my back and I would even give them the car out of my garage, and I was just really happy to do it.”
People around the world were equally inspired by the actions of everyone involved. “Wow, what a great story of not only a dedicated young man, but also a compassionate police department. Boy, could this country learn from all of your examples! Thank you for making my day,” one Twitter user shared. Meanwhile, Carr said to Inside Edition, “My message to people is don’t give up. No matter what the issue is, you can pull through.”
Carr is still working for Bellhops and while he couldn’t have expected the amazing response his story would receive, Marklin knows he can go far – especially now that he has a car to help him get there. “I am honestly blown away by him,” Marklin told the media. “Everything he did that day is exactly who we are – heart and grit. So far, he’s batting 1,000.”