CHAMPLIN PARK, Minn. (KMSP) - Students at Champlin Park High School are rallying behind a substitute teacher who was struggling to pay his wife's medical bills.
"Everybody kind of knows him as the sub that everybody kind of just loves him," said Dillon Murphy, a Champlin Park High School student.
If you ask around Champlin Park High School, few substitute teachers are as popular as Mr. Walter Erickson. He has a unique ability to connect with students, fostering a close relationship.
So when students learned Mr. Erickson needed help to pay for his wife's eye surgery they took action and started a GoFundMe with a modest goal.
"We started with a goal of like $500 expecting maybe $5 here, $5 there," said Murphy.
But within 24 hours the page had collected nearly $14,000, many of those who donated were former students of Mr. Erikson.
"That people would actually be able to raise this much and are willing to help this much, like it's meant so much to Mr. Erickson and to the whole Champlin community," said Hailey Pitsch, a Champlin Park High School student.
Students say Mr. Erikson was overwhelmed when he found out.
"You could just see how happy and how amazed he was at the amount of money we were able to raise and how he could finally pay for some of his wife's medical needs," said Murphy. "It's unbelievable because you start with $500 and you never think it gets this far."