Blind man on street surprised with $11,000, gifts from community

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Sebastian Ibanez is legally blind and sells cleaning supplies on a street corner in Mesa to support his family.

When an old friend from high school heard his story, he got the community involved to give him a Christmas surprise.

Ibanez was speechless when he received an $11,000 surprise check Friday evening.

“I’ve never had that kind of money before” Ibanez said.

That money came from a secret GoFundMe account setup by Brandon Mitchel, a high school classmate.

Mitchell knew Ibanez sold cleaning supplies on Mesa Drive and McKellips Road almost every day to support his wife and children, and he wanted to help.

“I’ve seen how hard he works to provide for his family. I’ve seen the struggles they’ve had. I know some of the things that he’s faced, and I felt that this was the time for them,” Mitchell said.

The original goal was $5,000, then $10,000, and tonight Ibanez was given over $11,000.

Ibanez plans on using the money to pay off some small debts. His mother-in-law passed away earlier this year and he still has bills from the funeral. He said he also needs to pay for school tuition, and wants to repair his car after a hit-and-run crash left several dents in it.

The community also handed out a trunk full of Christmas presents for his three children: Diego, Jorge and Julia. They said this will be a Christmas they’ll never forget.

“Merry Christmas, Happy New Year,” Ibanez said. “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, thank you very much for this miracle.”

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