A Georgia family is feeling the effects of kindness from strangers around the world. Michael Walker and his wife, Willa Strong, are living in and out of hotels. Each day since the pandemic hit, their focus has been on surviving and providing for their three daughters. Walker is on Dialysis battling kidney disease while raising their three girls who are all non-verbal with Autism.
The pandemic forced Walker to leave his retail job because he is at high risk for catching COVID. Strong had to stop working to homeschool the girls. Between Dialysis treatments, school supplies and the cost of living in the metro Atlanta area, the couple said their credit score took a big hit. After months of trying to get back on their feet, they had trouble finding an apartment or home that would accept them.
After more than a year feeling frustrated and trapped inside a one-bedroom hotel room, Walker took to social media for help. He broke down in an emotional testimony on TikTok sharing his family’s situation. Walker, who had been positive and hopeful through it all shared that he’d been losing hope and felt like a failure to his family. The video went viral receiving more than 300,000 views. Commenters encouraged him to start a GoFundMe and people from Georgia to as far away as Ireland have donated.
People are supporting the family all over the world from Georgia to Ireland. Some even encouraged Walker to launch a GoFundMe page. So far over $176,000 of the $250,000 goal has been raised with donations ranging from $1000 to as little as $5. The family plans to use the money raised to finance a loan for a rental home. Walker said he hopes they find a place that is safe and sufficient for his three daughters’ needs.
Walker said “For a long time, we felt alone. We felt like nobody cared. And the world proved us wrong.” Not only did they get some relief financially, Strong said the family also found community. She said this helped connect her with other families who have multiple children with special needs. Strong said, all this support is restoring the faith she once lost. “This was the push we needed in spirit to build my confidence,” she said. “All of this outpouring of love is so healing.”