U.S. Marine Guido Filippone set up a GoFundMe page and raised over $13,000 for a fellow veteran in need, after having just having met him for the first time that day.
Filippone met World War II veteran Mike Gazella outside a Veterans Affairs hospital in Austin, Texas, Wednesday. After learning about Gazella’s high medical costs, he decided to help.
“I immediately approached him and thanked him for his service,” Filippone told Fox News. “We got to talking and he told me he was drafted into the Army and he was stationed in Germany as the war was ending.”
Filippone said Gazella was having trouble getting reimbursed by the VA and had driven to the clinic to see if the VA would pay his $4,000 balance, Fox News reported.
“If I had a checkbook, I would have given the money to him right there. I wouldn’t want a World War II vet to move on to the next phase of life in debt,” Filippone said.
Gazella refused Filippone’s help initially, so he started the GoFundMe page without Gazella’s knowledge. The page is set to run for seven days and has already passed the goal of $4,000. However, Filippone said he still needs to track down Gazella because he doesn’t have his contact information
“I have to track this guy down. I know he goes to Starbucks every day in Leander — there’s only two Starbucks in Leander,” Filippone said. “I’m going to go to both, ask around and give him a check.”
“I could have easily just walked away and moved on,” he said. “It’s nice to give back when you can.”