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Strangers surprise man who walks 16 miles to 2 jobs with a new car

Kyle Bigler isn't sure how he's going to spend the six hours it used to take him to walk to and from work now that he'll be able to drive.

The 25-year-old has been walking a combined 16 miles a day to two minimum-wage jobs, where he often works 20-hour shifts. He tried looking for a job in his town of Gilford, New Hampshire, but establishments like McDonald's and Taco Bell wouldn't hire him.

Bigler has a learning disability and severe speech impediment that make it hard to find work.

"No places close to me would hire me and Dunkin' Donuts in Belmont did, so I took it and said I'd walk to work and work for them every day," he told TODAY.

And for one year, Bigler quietly undertook the grueling commute, racking up miles each day — going largely unnoticed. But all that changed about one month ago, when customer Joanna Griffiths pieced together Bigler’s efforts after encountering him three times in one day.

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Around 7:30 a.m., he handed the 24-year-old mom of 10 her usual morning coffee. Later that day around 3:30 p.m., she saw him walking, but wasn't able to stop in her rush to get to work at a local pizza restaurant.

On her way home at around 10:45 p.m., she stopped to get gas at Big Apple Gas Station, where Bigler also works. She offered him a ride home, but he politely declined because he was working the graveyard shift.

"I've never seen someone with such a strong work ethic," Griffiths told TODAY. "He walks with holes in his shoes and says he sometimes doesn't have enough money to eat."

When she saw Bigler a couple weeks later while going through the Dunkin' Donuts drive-thru, she snapped a photo of him, and shared his story on Facebook.

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Griffiths woke up the next morning to thousands of messages from strangers offering him jobs and asking where they could donate money to help Bigler get a car.

But one message stood out: It was from the owners of Autoserv Tilton, a local car dealership, who wanted to donate a car.

Courtesy of Sarah Daigle
Kyle Bigler in his new 2005 Honda Accord with Joanna Griffiths and owners of the car dealership.

On Thursday, Bigler became the proud owner of a 2005 Honda Accord; he will be able to drive to work once he passes a driving test.

"I'm going to have to figure out what to do with my time now that I won't be walking to work!" Bigler said.

While he can't wait to drive to work, he's most excited about being able to see his 3-year-old son, Steven — who lives with his mom 3 1/2 hours away — for the first time in almost a year.

"I sometimes get overwhelmed with 10 kids, but I have a home and a car and am able to put food on the table," Griffiths said. "Meeting Kyle has humbled me and made me more grateful for what I have."

This story was first published on July 19,2016.

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