A local outreach group is sharing the story of a Penticton man who could use some help from the community.
Bob Richards, 77, has been spotted multiple times collecting cans in the streets by the outreach workers with Keep the Cold off Penticton.
Richards, a former Ironman Penticton competitor who gave up the sport to help his sick wife, informed them he was not homeless but simply collecting cans and bottles to make money to pay a large amount of debt he has accumulated due to a series of unfortunate circumstances.
After Keep the Cold off Penticton shared Richards’ story on Facebook the post “went crazy,” said Mike Forster of Keep the Cold off Penticton. Ironman Canada eventually caught wind of Richards’ struggles through the post and launched a GoFundMe for him.
The GoFundMe page describes Richards as a “kind and caring individual that took out a loan to help his fellow citizens.”
“One would imagine that fate might look kindly on such an individual. Unfortunately, that is not always the case,” the page reads.
According to the GoFundMe page, Richards took out a “huge loan” in 2010 to help a struggling family purchase a mobile home in Penticton.
In 2014, the family moved and left the mobile home a “total wreck,” forcing him to give the mobile home away and transfer the credit line to his mortgage, according to the GoFundMe page.
Richards has slowly managed to drop the amount owing from $130,000 to $93,000 but still struggles to cope with the debt. He remains determined to pay it off.
“Bound and determined, I’ll get back on my feet without the financial stress,” he said.
As of Feb. 16, the GoFundMe has raised nearly $8,000 of the $20,000 just one day after it was launched.
Correction: The original story indicated that Richards bought a mobile home for his children. Richards had actually bought a home for a family he was helping in Oliver. The Western News regrets the error.