A 20-year-old man with an unrivaled work ethic has inspired countless others after walking 20 miles for his first day at a new job, including the company’s CEO, who surprised him with a car to call his own.
Walter Carr was ready to start his new job as a mover with Bellhops moving company in Alabama Friday when he was thrown a curve ball that would upend those with even the best of intentions: his car broke down.
But Carr was undeterred.
The Birmingham college student set out from his home in Homewood for his first shift helping move a family whose old home was about 20 miles away in Pelham. And since he had no car, he walked.
After sleeping for about four hours Thursday, Carr put on pants to cover his legs from the high grass he knew he’d trek through and set out at midnight.
He made it to Pelham by 4 a.m., when he encountered four police officers who were in awe when the learned of the journey the young man had made.
Cops took Carr to a Whataburger, where they bought him breakfast and lunch, and then dropped him at a church before saying they would be back to drive him to his job in time.
Upon their return, officers found Carr had already set out again, so they again picked him up and dropped him off at the home of Jenny and Chris Lamey.
“Around 6:30 a.m. the doorbell rang. It was a police officer. He proceeded to tell us that he had picked up ‘this nice kid’ in Pelham early this morning. ‘The nice kid,’ Walter, said he was supposed to help us with our move today,” Jenny Lamey wrote on Facebook.
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.”
Though Lamey offered Carr a chance to rest before the rest of the crew arrived, he started working.
"We chatted while we were working together early yesterday morning," Lamey wrote. "He was from New Orleans. He and his mother lost their home in Hurricane Katrina and they came and made their home in Birmingham."
Eight other young men worked with Carr to help move the Lameys, with the rest of the team unaware of the journey their new co-worker had made.
“As the crew arrived one by one, I saw them interacting in the street outside our house,” Lamey wrote. “Walter and I emerged from the house and one of the crew, Shawn, saw us and said to Walter, ‘You must be one of the recruits ... let me shake your hand. Thanks for showing up!’ He extended his hand to shake Walter’s. He was in total appreciation to him for being there.
“I guess it may be common for a ‘recruit,’ as he referred to him as, to not show up, leaving the rest of the crew without the extra man they were counting on,” Lamey continued. "I just looked at Shawn and said, ‘You wouldn’t believe what he did to get here. Tell him Walter.’ Walter said ‘I walked.’ That was it. Humble.
"So yes, yesterday we moved. Yesterday was crazy. Yesterday was long and hard and hot. But ... Walter."
It was evident Carr made an impression on everyone he met during his journey to work, as his story spread through the community and beyond.
"Proud to have encountered this young man," Pelham police said. “He certainly made an impact on us!"
"Be like Walter," they posted on Facebook.
Luke Marklin, the CEO of Bellhops, was also touched by Carr’s story, and set out to make a difference in his newest employee’s life.
“Our company stands for grit, stands for heart, stands for really putting the customer first — Walter just embodied that," Marklin told InsideEdition.com. “[The company] got together and we said, 'Wow, that is something truly special, something we have to show gratitude for. We need to give him a car.'"
So Marklin reached out to Carr to meet on Monday for coffee and thank him for his dedication.
But Carr got so much more, as Marklin surprised him with the keys to his own barely-driven 2014 Ford Escape.
“That’s the only thing that’s keeping him from being a bellhop, and he’s got everything else he needs for the job,” Marklin said. “Walter is going to put it to much better use than I was.”
Carr was left nearly speechless by the surprise of such a generous gift, video of the touching moment showed.
“Seriously?” he said, fighting back tears as he hugged Marklin. “Thank you! Oh my God!”
Lamey was present for the big reveal as well, and also became emotional as she embraced Carr after the surprise was revealed.
"You've changed all of our lives, Walter," she said. “You have no idea how many lives you've changed and inspired. You're a very special young man and you're going to do great things. You already have."
Lamey also created a GoFundMe account for Carr, which by Wednesday had raised more than $50,000.