BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — For over 40 years, Donnie Goodin has been bringing smiles to the people of Birmingham through the candy he sells. Now, the community is trying to return the favor.
You may have seen Goodin selling sweet treats in front of the Fish Market or other places around the city over the years. It’s provided him with an income for much of his life and earned him the nickname “Candyman.” However, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been difficult for him to sell candy and make money, so he’s needed some help.
He’s receiving it from a GoFundMe page.
“I feel like the community, or those 900 donors, are kind of like me,” said Johnsey Ruggerio, Goodin’s long-time friend. “They’ve been impacted by him, and they just want to give back to him. So there’s a lot of good people in Birmingham – I know that to be a fact.”
The page has been around since 2016, when Goodin needed money for a van. He was born with cerebral palsy, which has worsened over the last few years and left him immobilized. A properly-equipped van would help him get to medical appointments and locations where he could sell candy. The community responded by raising enough more than enough money for him to buy one.
Earlier this year, Goodin needed more money to get the van out of a repair shop. So Ruggerio made a post about it on the GoFundMe page, and the community raised the money Goodin needed. They continued to contribute funds for Donnie’s general well-being during the pandemic.
Since it first started, the account has raised more than $50,000 for the man who’s known for staying positive in the face of all his struggles.
“He’s been an inspiration to me, because I’ve known him for 17 years, and I’ve never seen him one time ever not have a smile, not be positive, not be upbeat,” said Ruggerio, who was a student at UAB in 2003 when the two first met. “And it helps me to be a better person to be around him.”
Goodin has trouble speaking on his own, but he can communicate through a computer mounted to his wheelchair.
“People make me happy,” he said.
People are the source of Goodin’s joy, and for many who know him, he’s the source of theirs.