Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin town! Originally hailing from the frozen tundra of the Midwest myself, I have a special place in my heart for Chicago. Sadly, I never encountered the infamous Walking Man for all the time I spent in that fair city as a teen and young adult.
69-year-old Joseph Kromelis — better known as the Walking Man — is a staple of Chicago streets, and just two weeks ago he was brutally attacked by some random asshole with a baseball bat.
After the news of the attack spread across Chicago, an unrelated woman started a GoFundMe page for him. That page has raised over $4000.
Listen, I want to be skeptical about this but as a born and raised Midwesterner myself, a small part of me wants to tell you that this is what Midwesterners do. We are polite, we are thoughtful, we care. We take care of our own. We love from the very depth of our being because that is just who we are raised to be.
As such, the Walking Man’s nephew put up a GoFundMe page to help his uncle as soon as he heard of the brutal beating.
In his GoFundMe plea for his uncle, Vytas Vaitkus writes:
“The ‘Walking Dude/Man’ is my uncle. He has been walking and peddling on the streets of Chicago for at least the last 40 years. The streets are his home, the place he has always felt at home until yesterday. He was brutally attacked with a baseball bat and had his eyes almost gouged out. It is not sure if he will regain use of his eyes. He really has no other life than peddling and walking the streets. This is all he has known for a long time. His brothers and sister (my mom) have already passed. He still has one sister in Alaska that I still need to contact.
Please help with what you can. Help save an ‘icon’ of the Chicago streets. Help giving someone a chance at surviving after being brutally attacked.”
The page stands at $33,123 as of this writing. $33k+ the Walking Man’s nephew really really wants to hand over to his uncle.
In one update, the nephew expressed frustration in being unable to connect with his uncle to hand over the money:
Kromelis the Walking Man told the local news upon his release “he didn’t want his nephew to see him in the hospital because he didn’t want him to see how bad he looked.”
In his most recent update to the GoFundMe page, Vytas the nephew says “the wheels are in motion” so let’s hope that means this money will get to the man who deserves it. Clearly there are some family dynamics at work here but that isn’t our business.
I can’t emphasize enough how I want to believe in Midwestern manners on this one. Here’s to Walking Man walking away with every penny raised in his name.