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Stranger starts fundraiser to help Tallahassee’s ‘Shock Man’ play chess again

Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 11:36 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A stranger is trying to help a Tallahassee man, who has battled cerebral palsy for years, do something he loves again: playing chess.

If you have bought a newspaper outside the Publix on Ocala Road before, you may have met Walter Hand yourself. The former chess champ says he has sold newspapers outside the store for nearly 50 years now.

Andrea Castillo says when she met Hand, she was touched by his story.

She stopped in her tracks on her way inside the grocery stores Sunday afternoon, deciding to strike up a conversation with the man holding a sign while sitting by a stack of newspapers.

“He’s just such a kind man,” she says. “Just for the community, and like, this is really about learning how to help other people and be more loving.”

Castillo then took to Twitter to see if Hand’s story would resonate with other strangers.

“And these were the pictures that I shared,” she says.

Hand’s sign, which was similar to one he had in 2017, included a plea for a volunteer trainer who can help him workout, so he can regain the strength he needs to play chess again.

Castillo says people close to Hand say his condition has worsened since WCTV first did a story on him.

“A lot of people who have known him for 15 plus years say that he does look weaker and he does look ... Like he does really need the help,” she says.

As of Wednesday morning, Castillo’s tweet has been retweeted thousands of times. Through a bit of social sleuthing, Castillo connected with a Florida A&M University student willing to lend a hand.

“One thing I like to do is help people,” Fonzi Selmour says.

Selmour is not only a food science major at FAMU, but he’s also a certified trainer. He’s lost more than 100 pounds in the last five years, and he says he intends to step in.

Meanwhile, the online support for Hand continues to grow.

“I don’t have a lot of money, but what I can do is share it and see if there are other people who are willing to help out, and there were,” Castillo says.

As of Wednesday morning, the GoFundMe page Castillo started Monday to help Hand with medical benefits has almost reached its goal of $10,000.

WCTV reached out to Hand on Monday, but the voicemail was not immediately returned.

In a previous story, Hand told WCTV he’s also known as the “Shock Man,” because when people say he can’t do something, he proves them wrong.

Copyright 2020 WCTV. All rights reserved.

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