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Viral photo helps popsicle vendor retire

Posted at 10:16 AM, Sep 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-13 10:16:56-04

(WGN, CNN NEWSOURCE)  It's the photograph that went viral within hours -- 89-year-old Fidencio Sanchez is shown struggling to push his paletas cart through Little Village.

We found Sanchez and his cart on 26th Street selling his ice cream and popsicles.

It's a job he's been doing for 20 years but only in the summer and on nice winter days. 

He leaves Paleteria Poncho every morning, pushing the 50-pound cart for as long as he can. Some days making only $8, other days $80.

"Everybody in Little Village has a lot of respect for him, because he's a hard worker. Now that everything became so big and everybody's actually giving the respect, it's just amazing," said Gustavo Pedraza with Paleteria Poncho.

He was finally slowing down, but then his daughter, who helped support him and his wife, died in June.

So when this picture was taken and the GoFundMe account started, it was with the hope of helping Sanchez take a day off here and there.

But what happened warmed the hearts of everyone involved.

"On the optimistic side, I was thinking he might get $2,000. I mean, like, 'Well, maybe we get him a week off,' and we got him retired. It's pretty awesome," said Jose Loera who started the GoFundMe account.

He didn't ask for the help and was determined to work until he died.

But now the kindness of friends and strangers has changed Sanchez's world dramatically. The campaign raised more than $200 thousand for the man in just two days.

Now, he says, he can finally rest.

“What will you say to all the people that gave you money?" he was asked. "Muchas gracias,” he said.

Sanchez says he'll also buy his wife a present, but he says he won't take her dancing.
He doesn't like dancing.