VIDEO – Airport Pianist Given $61K in Tips Thanks to Stranger: ‘I Was Overwhelmed’

Tonee “Valentine” Carter is a 66-year-old pianist for the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport who recently received the tip of a lifetime.

The story unfolded when a passenger waiting for a flight asked his Instagram followers to show their support for the musician, Good Morning America reported August 4.

Carter plays for a piano bar in Concourse A each week and his setlist features a variety of songs.

In July, Carlos Whittaker, a motivational speaker and author was on his way home to Nashville when he spotted Carter. Whittaker noticed Carter playing his heart out although there were not many people paying attention.

Whittaker said Carter’s music touched him, so he approached and the two got to know each other in between songs. That was when Whittaker had an idea.

He has more than 200,000 followers on Instagram, so he called on them to help raise some funds.

“30 minutes later and after a 20 minute conversation getting to know him, we tipped Tonee, who has kidney disease and is on dialysis 9 hours every night but still comes into work everyday to play… $10,000… which has grown to $61,000,” Whittaker said in an Instagram post:

In the clip, Carter appeared to be in shock the moment Whittaker told him about the fundraiser.

“I didn’t believe it,” Carter recalled. “But it was real.”

However, the story did not end there because Whittaker asked followers to keep donating whatever they could spare.

“By the time I landed in Nashville, it was at like $25,000, and by the time I talked to him that evening, it was $44,000,” Whittaker explained, adding that he ultimately received $61,000 in donations for Carter.

“I was overwhelmed,” Carter said of the additional tips. “I started bawling again.”

Carter has since made plans for the funds to help others.

“That money’s not mine,” he stated. “I’m going to be paying it forward,” adding he intended to make donations on a quarterly basis to the American Kidney Foundation.

“I’m going to be helping people for years to come,” he noted. “God made me a steward of that money and I ain’t letting him down.”


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