At 83 years old John Joyce walks several miles a day to mow the lawns of his customers’ homes. For more than 20 years Joyce makes it to each home, despite pain in his knees and arthritis. But getting to his job every day became almost impossible when the transmission on his 1995 Ford F-150 gave out for the last time.
“We’ve put so much money in it over the years and we finally had to junk it,” his daughter, Kelly Wiggan, tells PEOPLE.
But Joyce, who lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, is on a fixed income, didn’t want to disappoint his customers and “I needed the money,” he admits.
So he walks five to six miles a day to get to his customers who live close enough to cut their yards. He pushes the lawnmower down the road while carrying the heavy leaf blower.
“It’s not hard,” he tells PEOPLE. “It’s just a little uncomfortable.”
His daughter clarifies, “His knees swell up pretty bad if he walks too much. My dad’s a really good guy, he’s old school, a good, kindhearted man and has a really close relationship with his customers.”
So close that when he heard one of his customers was going to have his power turned off because he couldn’t pay the bill, Joyce, who couldn’t afford to fix his own truck, loaned the man $300 to keep the lights on. He hasn’t been paid back yet, but Joyce is about to get something else in return for his kind heart.
Another one of his customers has started a GoFundME page to help buy Joyce a used truck.
“John is a good, hardworking man and seeing him pushing his mower motivated [my wife] Nikki and me to help him,” Robert Norton tells PEOPLE.
Joyce has been mowing Norton’s lawn for eight years. The two first met when Norton saw John working on a neighbor’s yard.
“I asked him how much he would charge and when I came home my yard was cut. He only asks for $20 and he’s so loyal,” he says. The only time we don’t see him is if he’s sick.”
Norton is helping Joyce while facing tough times of his own. Last Monday, five days before his wedding to Nikki, his mom died unexpectedly.
Norton tells PEOPLE, “Our life has been crazy, but people’s needs don’t wait until the time is right for you. Yes, we are doing a good thing, but we are just normal people trying to help someone who needs it.”
More than 200 people have donated almost $8,000 so far and a used car dealer in town has said he’d like to help. Robert says any extra money will go to getting John gas cards and new landscaping tools.
Joyce is overwhelmed.
“I think it’s nice, it’s wonderful. I’ve never seen better people in my life,” he says.
He’s excited about the thought of a new truck, but, not surprisingly, isn’t picky.
“I just want something to get around in!” he adds.
(Photo Source: Robert Nixon for People Magazine)