Airport Piano Player Pledges To 'Pay Forward' $61,000 Listener Raised For Him

While it can be hard to go through a day without feeling worse about humanity by the time it's over, it's nonetheless amazing to see how much of a difference some people will make for total strangers on a whim.

Whether they're leaving a staggering tip at a restaurant, helping others receive the same comforts they may have otherwise taken for granted, or digging deep during a tumultuous time, it seems that someone is always finding a new way to inspire us.

And as we'll see in today's story, these life-affirming acts can come from situations that surprise even the generous folks behind them.

Be advised that the video featured in this article contains strong language

After a motivational speaker named Carlos Whittaker had his speaking event in Memphis cancelled on July 21, he found himself changing planes in Atlanta.

And as Good Morning America reported, it was at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport that he saw a pianist named Tonee "Valentine" Carter passionately playing despite the fact that nearby patrons weren't paying him much attention.

As Whittaker said, "I used to be a musician. I was the opening band for a bunch of bands and nobody ever paid attention to me. So when I saw that nobody was really listening to him, my heart was like, 'Ah, I get it.’"

Following a conversation with Carter and a realization that his tip jar was empty, Whittaker got the idea to give him the biggest tip of his life.

So he appealed to his 200,000 Instagram followers — whom he calls is "InstaFamilia" — to come together and raise what Whittaker expected to be about $2,500.

But in a move that brought tears to Carter's eyes, both men would soon be amazed to learn that these followers managed to amass $10,000 within just 30 minutes.

And the donations didn't stop rolling in once Whittaker left to catch his flight.

By the time he landed in Nashville, that number rose to $25,000.

But by the time all was said and done, the total for Carter's tip would balloon to $61,000, which Carter said made him bawl all over again.

Carter has been playing at the airport for the past 13 years and has pursued his passion for music ever since seeing a Ray Charles performance at the age of six.

In his words, "When you see somebody come in, sit down, and they’re looking crappy and nobody’s talking to each other and then I just happen to play the right song at the right time and all of sudden, feet are patting, the hands are tapping the table and the smiles are coming. It’s something unreal."

But while the full video makes it clear how much this generosity means to him, he primarily sees it as an opportunity for more good deeds and intends to pay the money forward.

Aside from an oil change for his car, Carter is planning on using the money to make quarterly donations to the American Kidney Foundation, as his own kidney condition has left him with 10% of kidney function and requires nine hours of dialysis every night.

As Carter put it, "I’m going to be helping people for years to come. God made me a steward of that money and I ain’t letting him down."

h/t: Good Morning America

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