From paletas to the penthouse, 89-year-old Fidencio Sanchez has received a huge payday from a GoFundMe campaign and will no longer have to sell ice pops on the streets of Chicago to make a living.
Joel Cervantes Macias started the GoFundMe page with the small goal of $3,000 after seeing Fidencio struggling to push his cart down the street in the area’s Little Village. Sanchez's daughter had recently died and he had to take on extra hours, Cervantes Macias said.
In less than an hour, the fundraising goal was exceeded.
Sanchez and his wife, who also sold ice pops until she was sidelined by illness, were presented with a check Wednesday for more than $380,000.
The couple will now spend the rest of their lives relaxing with no plans to work again.
“My body won't let me [work] anymore. I did it out of necessity, but now I don't have to struggle anymore," Sanchez said in a press conference. "I'm so happy and grateful to be here and grateful for the people who have helped me and to the community whose big hearts have helped me and my wife in our old age."
Sanchez sold the treats for a shop, Ponchos Paleteria, whose co-owner, Gustavo Pedraza, said Sanchez has been working for the shop since Pedraza was a small boy. He worked there for more than a decade.
"He's been with us since I was a little kid. He's very humble, innocent, but a very hard worker," Gustavo Pedraza told the Chicago Tribune. "It's just amazing what happened here in Little Village because it became a national and international thing. We're going to miss him, but we're always going to be in touch."
Sanchez said he has no idea how he will spend the money and that it’s a lot to think about.
The campaign broke the Illinois record for money raised through GoFundMe and ranked in the top 25 in the United States. People from 69 countries poured into the campaign with donations ranging from $5 to $2,000.
As Cervantes presented the check to Sanchez he said, “This is so you can enjoy the rest of your life with your wife and your family without working so much.”
Cervantes is also very grateful for all of the support of something he didn’t think would become so big.
“It just give me a different outlook on humanity,” said Cervantes Macias “It showed you that people want to be part of a feel-good story.”