A homeless burn victim who came to Reddit to share his story walked away with a bunch of new friends and generous donations from the community.
Chris Tomlinson, 28, hosted an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit on Sunday and users were so inspired by his experience that they’ve rallied around him.
They have already donated nearly $2,000 to support Tomlinson.
The candid survivor shared the horrific details of how he was burned on more than 98 percent of his body as a baby and how he still faces obstacles.
When he was nearly 2 years old, he slipped out of a swing in his Florida backyard and ventured to the family's shed when his mom wasn’t looking.
He dumped gasoline on himself and the pilot light on the heater ignited. His mother rescued him, but not before he was severely burned in the blaze.
He was given a 1 percent chance of survival, but beat the odds.
Now, 26 years later, Tomlinson is a married father of two, but is facing entirely new and heavily plaguing problems - joblessness and homelessness.
Tomlinson was living with his wife and daughters in an apartment in Massachusetts until their rent was increased and they could no longer afford it.
The young family crashed at friends’ houses after they could no longer afford their home. But since June, they’ve been in a crammed “hotel shelter.”
The unemployed dad said he'd love to work with computers, similar to what the “Geek Squad” does at Best Buy. Making that happen is another story.
Tomlinson told Reddit that he’s able to secure interviews, but employers often say he’s not “physically fit” to perform the tasks the jobs require.
His intention wasn’t to elicit sympathy on Reddit, he says, but given that he's undergone more than 200 surgeries, it was hard not to feel some.
Tomlinson said the main reason he went public was to help others with disabilities and generate conversation about how to treat people who are different.
For example, the burn victim said he appreciates when people come up and ask him about his accident, instead of just gawking or quickly turning away.
“When a person stares at me I usually smile or wave or I hug my kids in front of them to show that I'm not going to hurt anyone," he said.
“I often find children to be nicer than teenagers and adults."
"Usually," he notes, "my kids notice people staring first and will run up to me and hug me and play with me to show that I'm safe.”