Many people believe that being just one person, they can’t possibly change someone’s life but sometimes all it takes is one person’s kindness to spark the efforts of many. Michael Lynn of Moore, Oklahoma certainly didn’t expect to ignite a spark when he offered Donte Franklin a ride on a hot day but their paths crossing has resulted in an outpouring of donations including a new bike and $53,000 raised through a GoFundMe campaign.
Lynn was out running errands on a sweltering hot day when noticed a young man walking. On his way back, he noticed the same young man—still walking—and decided to offer him a ride. Lynn was so moved when he learned more about Franklin’s 17-mile work pilgrimage to his job as a cook at Buffalo Wild Wings, he couldn’t help but share the details of Franklin’s story on Facebook—where it was quickly shared more than 1,000 times.
To make it to his shift as a cook, Donte Franklin was leaving for work three hours early each day and trekking more than eight miles on foot to arrive on time. At the end of a full shift, , the 20-year-old walked the 8 miles home. Franklin credits his amazing work ethic to his late mom, who passed away four years ago. Franklin said life hasn’t always been a clear path for him after his mom died and his siblings raised him. “I had to be positive,” he said. “I had to grind to make a better me, to make my momma happy. I really don’t care if it gets tiring. I just have to keep pushing, I walk just to make my family proud.” Franklin is studying to become a welder and just needs more money to continue to help his family, even if it means hiking to work in scorching temperatures. “I’ve just gotta keep going. It’s all going to pay off in the end,” Franklin said.
One of the people who saw Lynn’s Facebook post was Kerri Collins. She and her husband are the driving forces behind a biker charity group called My Riding Buddies Oklahoma and Bikers for Elves (MRBO). “Anytime I see something posted concerning anybody anywhere in Oklahoma, I immediately jump in and we do whatever we can as a group,” said Collins. “It just touched me that this man is only 20 years old and is walking to two different jobs with nothing in the heat. It opened my heart because kids his age don’t do that.”
In appreciation of his extraordinary efforts, MRBO gifted Franklin with a brand-new bike prior to his next shift. While Donte’s commute got easier, the blessings didn’t end there. Inspired by the young man’s determination, a GoFundMe page was set up in his name with the goal of $2,000 to help him buy a car. The GoFundMe raised $15,000 in one day and by the end of the campaign had raised a total of over $53,000
Donte Franklin says he considers everything that’s happened to him to be a blessing and believes that he and Lynn were fated to become friends. Lynn shares that sentiment “As long as he wants to, I want to keep him in my life and I want to be in his life. I told him, if the Lord opens the door for you, walk through it… I think it’s open for him and the rest is up to him.”