An 82-year-old U.S. Navy veteran won’t be worrying about bills anymore after a GoFundMe campaign raised more than $100,000 for him, allowing him to retire from the Walmart he’d been working at since 2005.
The campaign was fueled by a viral TikTok that a shopper filmed in Walter “Butch” Marion’s check-out lane last month at the Walmart in LaVale, Maryland.
As of Jan. 12, the campaign has raised $145,443.
“It’s a miracle,” the Navy veteran told the local Cumberland Times-News. “What else can I say? I can’t wrap my mind around it.”
The TikTok, viewed more than 3 million times, showed Marion ringing up McCarty’s batteries while the TikToker, Rory McCarty, told him about viral campaigns he’d seen raising cash windfalls for the elderly. McCarty told the Times-News that he wanted to replicate that kind of giving for someone local to his area.
“I didn’t do anything extraordinary,” McCarty said. “Anyone could have done it.”
McCarty said he took interest in Marion because he was “still grinding” at his advanced age, and “he was nice and personable. So I instinctively pulled out my camera, and I started filming him and asking him questions.”
Marion turned out to be a nine-year Navy veteran who had served on a lead destroyer during the Bay of Pigs invasion and Cuban blockade, the Times-News reported. After the service, he married a woman, befriended her previous husband, and took care of them to their last days after both were diagnosed with cancer.
The video has inspired more than 5,900 individual donations, including a $3,000 donation from someone in Ireland, according to McCarty.
“All I can tell you is the good Lord has blessed me for what I did in my younger years,” added Marion. “What this is going to do for me at 82 years-old is allow me to pay all my bills off, including my house and I will have nothing but my utility bills. I’ll be able to travel to Florida whenever I feel like going and see my kids. I’m very, very blessed.”