How much do we really know about our coworkers? Despite spending several hours at a time shoulder-to-shoulder with them, aspects of their personal lives often go unnoticed.
But when Bianca Ayala learned what her fellow employee Juan Estrada went through to get to work everyday, she decided to take action.
Ayala was surprised to learn that Estrada bikes more than two hours to work everyday.
Ayala and Estrada work together at the Texas Roadhouse restaurant in Kingwood, Texas. The route from Estrada’s New Caney residence is a rough one.
To get to work, Estrada puts on an orange safety vest and bikes over uneven terrain, often through inclement weather, on a Mongoose bicycle without brakes. Ayala was surprised when she learned of his exhaustive trek.
“I was like ‘Do you do construction work before work or something like that?’ And he said ‘No, I biked here,'” Ayala said to ABC7NY.
Estrada works as a dishwasher and busser at the restaurant. His positive attitude and strong work ethic endeared him to Ayala, who wanted to find a way to make his life easier.
“I wake up and thank God I get another day of work. That’s why I work so hard,” Estrada said to ABC7NY.
Ayala started a GoFundMe with the hopes of purchasing a car for Estrada.
Ayala advertised the fundraiser in Estrada’s honor through Twitter. She set a goal of $2,000 for the fundraiser, which she figured would be enough to buy him a reliable car to get around town.
“Twitter I need your help, my coworker Juan has been biking 2 hours to work for the past 6 months. He’s the sweetest and most hard working person I know,” her tweet said.
“I’ve started a gofundme for him, all he needs is a decent car to get him to work and back. Please retweet, anything will help!”
Her tweet quickly went viral, garnering over 229,000 likes and 181,000 retweets. The donations started rolling in, and before long, the goal she’d set for the fundraiser had been surpassed.
The fundraiser received over $11,000 in donations, all of which will go to Estrada.
Ayala won’t have access to withdraw the funds until June 19, at which point she intends to take Estrada car shopping. The original goal was surpassed several times over, and additional funds will be used to cover car-related expenses.
“Juan will be withdrawing the funds and purchasing the car. ANY money left over at all will be used by Juan for car-related expenses such as gas and insurance,” Ayala said on the GoFundMe page.
Donations have come in small amounts from over 1,000 people in less than a week. The post got more attention than Ayala originally thought it would, and while she’s happy to have helped Estrada, nobody is more excited about the car than he is.
When asked what he’d do once he was behind the wheel of his new car, he cracked a smile.
“Ride a little bit of AC on there and take my dog for a ride too.”