JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The Jonesboro community received nationwide recognition after two men shared their story of generosity and hard work on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Monday afternoon.
We first aired this story three weeks ago on Region 8 News at Ten. Since then, it's been shared across the nation.
Jonesboro police officer John Shipman told Region 8 News that seeing the community pull together to support James Taylor wasn't surprising.
He first posted about James late Thursday night.
"By Tuesday and Wednesday, we had a car that was donated," Ofc. Shipman said. "People were calling about wanting to donate work on the car, we had a little over $3,000 donated."
Ofc. Shipman said it was interest from someone over a thousand miles away that caught him by surprise.
"Work called me and said 'you need to call this number, it's the Ellen DeGeneres show' and I was like 'okay, they're playing with me,'" Ofc. Shipman said. "So I thought okay, I'm gonna go ahead and play their game."
That phone call eventually led to the trip of a lifetime. Ofc. Shipman, James and their families boarded a plane for Los Angeles last Wednesday.
It was James first time to ever fly in a plane.
"It's beyond my wildest imagination that just doing a kind gesture that seems like the right thing to do...in this part of the country, the way we were raised, the way we're brought up, makes it all the way to Hollywood, California," Ofc. Shipman said.
Their interview with Ellen took place two weeks to the day after Ofc. Shipman stopped to give James a ride.
"The citizens of Jonesboro stepped up and hit this one out of the park," Ofc. Shipman told Ellen on TV.
"Good for you for stopping and not just giving him a ride but learning more about him and what an amazing young man you are," Ellen said.
After sharing their story, Ellen rewarded them for their hard work and generosity.
"We, this season, partnered with something, it's an e-Book service, it's called Entitle," Ellen told James. "Every time someone signs up for Entitle, they make a donation to our scholarship fund and we want to help continue your education by making you our first recipient of our Entitle Scholarship and we're gonna give you a check for $20,000."
That wasn't all. Later in the show, Ofc. Shipman and James were called back down for another surprise.
This time, Ellen rewarded Ofc. Shipman.
"So, you're a police officer during the day, at night, you're a security guard. So you're trying to make ends meet. Well, we want to help you," Ellen told Ofc. Shipman. "Our friends at Shutterfly have made it possible for us to help hundreds of people over the past three years and they want to help you by giving you a check for $10,000."
For Ofc. Shipman, he said he hopes James' story serves as inspiration for others.
"James was asking nobody for nothing. He was just walking to work, walking home from work and walking to his classes and carrying a 4.0," Ofc. Shipman said.
Ofc. Shipman said not every story will play out like James' did. However, he said to not let that discourage you.
"You will be rewarded," Ofc. Shipman said. "It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow. I promise you, three weeks ago James had no idea, first of all that he'd have a little money in the bank, a car to drive, besides go to Hollywood."
Though the scholarship will help James breathe a little easier, Ofc. Shipman said this story is much more far-reaching.
"This has been one of those stories that's gonna change us all in the end," Ofc. Shipman said.
James life has changed dramatically since walking home in the sleet and snow three weeks ago, but he said he's just ready for life to go back to normal.
He declined an interview with KAIT-TV but posted to his Facebook page about the situation.
James said that there have been some negative comments made about the story but that he is "content with working at McDonald's and living a low-profile life, and to look past all discrimination against me and the people that have helped me."
Ofc. Shipman and James agreed that they should shut down the GoFundMe account before the story aired on Ellen.
"I only want what I need to survive, nothing more," James said.