NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — If you spend time in downtown New Brunswick, you've probably come across John Fleming Sr.
He's a constant presence on George Street, often camped out near its intersection with Paterson Street and the Rite Aid. He panhandles, soliciting pocket change from passersby and occasionally playing tunes over his speaker.
But as of late, Fleming's found himself in more of a bind. He relies on a wheelchair to get by, and he said it's begun to fall apart. A rear wheel has worn down, and one of the front-wheel forks has broken off, he said.
So the New Brunswick man is raising money—but online, rather than in the streets—to buy the necessary parts for a new donated wheelchair.
“Someone gave me a Jazzy wheelchair,” he wrote on his GoFundMe page. “So far it has taken me 3 months to get 1 battery and 1 wheel.”
Fleming hopes to raise $175 to buy another battery and the second wheel. He said he needs them to use the upgraded, motorized wheelchair.
In the past, on Facebook, Fleming wrote that he has no muscle in his left thigh. That condition prevents him from walking.
What's more, he recently said, he lost his left big toe last winter after an infection required it to be amputated. Fleming couldn't afford shoes, he said.
So far, Fleming has received $60 toward the equipment from four donors. His campaign, which is now trending, launched little more than a week ago, on July 26.
“It's getting better all the time,” Fleming wrote on GoFundMe after receiving the early donations. “Thanks people.”