Fifty dollars turned into $200. Then $475 grew to $3,000.
Within a matter of days, a GoFundMe page for Willie Davis has raised more than $50,000 after his story touched the hearts of strangers.
“This is unbelievable,” said Davis. “I guess ‘astonishment’ would be a good word.”
The 66-year-old U.S. Navy veteran has terminal cancer and holds yard sales to raise money for his own funeral expenses.
When Edward Sheets and David Dunkleberger stopped by one Saturday in August on a whim and learned Willie’s story, they knew they wanted to help. That’s when they started the GoFundMe page, but they never expected this response. WTAJ first shared Willie’s story on Monday. Since then, it went viral and hundreds of people from all over the country started donating money.
“Since Monday, the donations have just poured in,” Sheets said. “It started with us, but it’s reached so many more lives and it’s incredible.”
Willie has more than enough money to pay for his own funeral. It will cost around $15,000 to be buried next to his parents in Culpeper, Virginia.
“I’m honored that, that now I can get to that cemetery and be buried there because it was my mom’s wish too,” Davis said.
Now, Willie, David and Edward want to pay it forward. They’d like to use the extra money to start a foundation for other veterans in need.
“We’re looking at veterans that are in a similar situation to him that have health issues, financial issues, covering the costs of their funerals,” Sheets said.
“This could continue well beyond my passing,” said Willie.
Willie doesn’t know how long he has left and he doesn’t want to know.
“Oh gosh, I’m going to be cramming, cramming good times as much as I can.”
He said he’s relieved knowing his family won’t be financially burdened and that there are people like David, Edward and hundreds of others who are willing to help a stranger.
“It’s beyond words to tell you how much Dave and Ed did for me,” said Willie.
You can donate to Willie’s GoFundMe page here.