US & Canada

Chicago paleta vendor Fidencio Sanchez melts US hearts

Mr Sanchez outfits his cart with clanging bells, drawing more attention to his business Image copyright GoFundMe
Image caption Mr Sanchez outfits his cart with clanging bells, drawing more attention to his business

More than $200,000 (£150,000) has been raised online in days for an elderly Chicago ice popsicle vendor who was pictured struggling to push his cart.

Fidencio Sanchez, 89, was forced out of retirement in the summer after his only daughter died and he took custody of her children.

The GoFundMe page was set up by a stranger who was moved to see the paleta seller hunched over his trolley.

Despite the windfall, Mr Sanchez says he has no plans to stop working.

Image copyright Twitter

He has been selling ice pops in the Little Village neighbourhood of the Illinois city for 23 years.

Mr Sanchez had been retired just two months when his daughter passed away in July.

His wife, who also used to sell the ice pops, was forced to quit in the summer because of failing health.

"We thought, what are we going to do? We have to pay the bills," the Spanish-speaking vendor told ABC News through a translator.

Mr Sanchez decided to dust off his cart of frozen treats once again to help support his wife and grandchildren.

"I wake up early and (work) all day until eight at night," he said.

The online fundraiser was set up last Friday by a passer-by who was inspired by the ageing paleta seller's work ethic.

Image copyright Twitter

"It broke my heart seeing this man who should be enjoying retirement," Joel Cervantes Macias wrote on GoFundMe.

Mr Macias, who runs a Mexican restaurant, said he bought 20 paletas from Mr Sanchez for $50.

He drove away and posted the photo on Facebook, with the comment: "I respect this man to the fullest! #workflow #dyingbreed #mexicano #migente."

The image garnered a huge response.

Mr Macias said he decided to set up the online fundraiser, "Relief for Fidencio the paleta man", in the hope of collecting $3,000 dollars (£2,250) for him.

That target was surpassed in less than an hour.

By Monday evening, the page had raised more than $201,000.