Homeless man gives stranded woman his last £15 so she can buy petrol – now she’s transforming his life
Veteran Johnny Bobbitt Jr forked out his last bit of money so Kate McClure could get home safely late at night – now, she’s paying him back in an amazing way
When Kate McClure ran out of petrol on a highway late at night, she was terrified.
With her heart “beating out of her chest”, she pulled over and got out of her car, intending to walk alone in the darkness to the nearest petrol station.
That’s when she met Johnny Bobbitt Jr.
A homeless man who often sits at the side of Interstate 95 (I-95) in the US, he approached Kate, before telling her to get back into her vehicle and lock the doors.
He then walked off – but appeared several minutes later with a can of petrol. Amazingly, he had forked out his last 20 dollars (£15) so she could get home safely.
And in return, he did not ask for anything.
Kate, 27, says she was unable to repay Johnny at the time of his kind-hearted act because she didn’t have any cash on her.
But in the following weeks, she kept stopping at the side of the highway in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the veteran regularly sits with a sign.
She repaid him for the petrol and gave him warm clothing (including a jacket, gloves, a hat and socks), food, and a case of water.
However, she still wanted to help Johnny further. In a bid to do so, she set up a fundraising page, called ‘Paying It Forward’.
She launched the GoFundMe page with the intention of raising enough cash to cover the first and last month’s rent of an apartment.
She also hoped to fund a “reliable vehicle” and four to six months’ worth of expenses.
“I wish that I could do more for this selfless man, who went out of his way just to help me that day,” Kate wrote on the page, set up on November 10.
She added: “He is such a great guy, and talking to him each time I see him makes me want to help him more and more.
“One day I stopped to see him and had a few things in a bag to give him, one of which was a box of cereal bars so he could have something that he could carry around and eat. He was very appreciative as usual and the first thing he said was “do you want one?” Another time I dropped off 2 wawa gift cards and a case of water…
“The first words that came out of his mouth were ‘I can’t wait to show the guys’ (there are 2 others he hangs out with and they all take care of each other).
“If just those 2 statements alone do not give you a glimpse of the good heart this man has I’m not sure anything will.”
She described how Johnny was “very interested” in finding a job.
“I believe that with a place to be able to clean up every night and get a good night’s rest, his life can get back to being normal,” she wrote.
“Truly believe that all Johnny needs is one little break.
“Hopefully with your help I can be the one to give it to him.
“Please help this man get into a home. It is already getting so cold out in Philadelphia, and I can’t imagine what it will be like to be out there all winter.
“Any little bit will help.”
In less than a fortnight, more than $250,000 (£188,000) has already been raised for Johnny, a former ammunition technician with the Marines.
And Kate is delighted.
Last week, she posted emotional video footage online of the moment the homeless man discovered members of the public were raising money for him.
In the clip, he can be heard saying: “Holy s***!” God, that’s amazing.”
He then beams widely and jumps backwards, in complete disbelief.
Kate wrote of the footage: “We finally surprised Johnny yesterday! As you can see, he is ECSTATIC!!! And it’s all thanks to those of you who have donated and shared.
“We still have not hit our mark, but as he said, just what we have now changes his life.
“We really appreciate the outpouring of support from this amazing community, and we hope that we can keep it going. Please continue to share and donate if you can.
“This smile is because of YOU!!!”
In a later post, she described how Johnny used to be in the Marines, saying: “This is just a reminder that this could happen to any of us.”
The homeless veteran also previously trained to be a paramedic.
After she came to a halt on the southbound I-95 at 11pm last month, Kate had called her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, 38, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
He told her he would come and get her – before Johnny came to her aid moments later.
Last night, Kate and Mark took the veteran shopping for some essentials.
They also booked him into a hotel for the holiday weekend while they look into sorting out a new home for him, using the generous donations.
“Mark and I would like to say thank you for the tremendous wave of support this has received,” Kate wrote on the fundraising page early today.
“This has surpassed our wildest expectations. Johnny would like to add…. mmmmm better yet, you’re just going to have to wait until he’s ready for his debut.
“You guys are amazing! I hope everyone has a great holiday!!
“You’ll be hearing from Johnny soon.”
According to the young woman and her boyfriend, Johnny’s dream is to live in Robbinsville, New Jersey, and work at the Amazon warehouse.
“He definitely has the drive,” Mark told the Inquirer.
“He doesn’t want to be on the streets anymore. He wants to be a functioning member of society and not be sitting on a guard rail in Philadelphia.”