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Woman raises over $130,000 to help pay off the medical debt of elderly Walmart worker using a cane

Throughout Kelly's fundraising endeavors, Rizzo has kept her informed, and the two have since become good friends.

Woman raises over $130,000 to help pay off the medical debt of elderly Walmart worker using a cane
Cover Image Source: Tiktok / rustywarrenknockersupgal

When Elizabeth Rizzo saw an 82-year-old woman working at an Arizona Walmart with a cane, she wondered why she was still working at her age. She had no idea that just a few days later, she would help change that employee's life forever. Rizzo made a TikTok video about the Walmart employee, Carman Kelly, who was working to pay off about $10,000 in medical debt with only $50 in her bank account at the time. “I was surprised at the amount we were able to fundraise,” Rizzo tells TODAY. “I was really shocked, but I believe in the goodness of people and I believe if you touch their heart, in some way, they’ll come together.”

Rizzo shared a video on TikTok under the handle @rustywarrenkockersupgal, and it has since gained a lot of attention, receiving over 15 million views. Kelly's GoFundMe campaign, which she started and promoted among her followers, raised more than $130,000, well beyond its initial goal. Throughout Kelly's fundraising endeavors, Rizzo has kept her informed, and the two have become good friends. She informed Kelly that she had raised roughly $5,000 after posting the first video, and she then made another TikTok video to share the news. “You’re their new grandma!” Rizzo said in the video as she told a shocked Kelly the news. “Will you be able to retire after this?” Rizzo asked. “I hope so!” Kelly responded. At that point, the donations kept pouring in.



“With the second video, it just went crazy,” Rizzo says. “I was not planning this, I just felt moved to do this.” Other videos continued documenting her contacts with Kelly. Rizzo had also started posting them to her TikTok group. Rizzo was contacted by Kelly's family when they learned about the fundraiser, who also sent him family pictures. Kelly informs Rizzo that she is truly altering her life during the fundraiser's final reveal and expresses her gratitude to her. “There aren’t enough words to tell you how I feel,” Kelly told Rizzo during the reveal. “It isn’t just about me, it’s what the meaning of all this is and I really feel that. It’s about joy.”


The two are now close friends and live barely 20 minutes apart. Rizzo claims to think of Kelly as her own grandma. Though she died away when she was still quite little, her own grandma taught her the value of giving. When she was a little child, she recalled strolling through the streets of New York City and being told by her grandmother to move any rocks she noticed to the side of the road so an elderly person wouldn't trip over them. Rizzo said that her grandmother had taught her to show kindness to everyone, regardless of who they were, and that it was this same concept that had motivated her to help Kelly. “My grandmother died when I was 15 and she was my rock,” she says. “I always wished I had my grandmother growing up. You know, Carman is my new grandmother. I didn’t know it would take until I was 68 years old to get my grandma back.” 



Rizzo is happy with the way the TikTok community banded together to support Kelly financially. She thinks it remarkable that total strangers have persuaded others to contribute to the cause. Kelly will continue to work at Walmart since she enjoys her position, but Rizzo claims that she wants to work fewer hours. She also has plans to purchase a new home soon. Rizzo's major objective is to ensure that Kelly receives every penny of the funds she has earned, and to that end, she plans to create trust in Kelly's name. “I never dreamed this would happen,” she says. “I think this is something not just for Carman, but for all of us too, to carry on in the world to do good.”

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