Homeless veteran who received over $360K now wants to pay it forward, 'I just want to do the right thing'
(PHILADELPHIA) — A homeless veteran who received a reward he never expected after he spent his last $20 to help a stranded woman buy gas, now says he wants to touch other people’s lives the way his was touched.
Marine Corps vet Johnny Bobbitt reunited with the woman he helped, Kate McClure, for the first time on TV in a heartwarming interview that will air Sunday on ABC’s Good Morning America.
McClure, 27, has raised more than $360,000 for Bobbitt after he helped her buy gas when her car broke down on the I-95 exit ramp near Philadelphia.
Bobbitt said he’s been “overwhelmed” by people’s generosity.
“I just got her gas to help her get back on her way. I didn’t think anything about it. I wasn’t expecting anything in return,” he told “Good Morning America.” “That’s how I got the money to start with — from other people. [I had to] return the favor. I can’t constantly take and not give back.”
McClure said she and her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, made several visits to Bobbitt at that fateful exit ramp where her car broke down two months ago, delivering gift cards, cash and toiletries.
Then one day, the couple decided to create a GoFundMe to raise money so Bobbitt wouldn’t have to spend the upcoming holidays sleeping out on the street. Their initial goal was $10,000. They had no idea that their crowdfunding efforts would eventually total more than $360,000 by Saturday.
Bobbitt, who is originally from the Raleigh, North Carolina area, and McClure have since formed a friendship. It’s been a welcome development for the veteran, who was sleeping under a highway just four days ago.
“It does get kind of lonely out there. People treat you differently … when you’re homeless,” he admitted. “People don’t look at you the same.”
Bobbitt said McClure and D’Amico, however, “treat me like a regular person.”
With more than 12,000 people donating to Bobbitt to help him get back on his feet, many are wondering what he plans to do with the windfall. Bobbitt said along with securing a place to live, and perhaps buying a used truck, he’s thinking long and hard about it.
“I want to change my life, but you know it just happened,” he said. “I need to time to figure it all out.”
McClure, a Florence, New Jersey, resident, has also arranged meetings with a financial planner and a lawyer to help the veteran.
“I just want to do the right thing,” Bobbitt continued, noting that he plans to donate some of the money to organizations that help those in need.
“This money was given to help me. Why not help other people in similar situations or people that are actively helping other people in different situations?” he said.
“Everybody out there is facing some kind of struggle, so if I can touch their life, the way mine was touched, [it’d be] an amazing feeling,” Bobbitt said. “I want to feel the feeling on the opposite end.”
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