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More than 500 miles away in

More than 500 miles away in Midlothian, Va., Ethan Whittington read about the story online. He decided the good Samaritan deserved more than a plaque, so he started an online campaign to help James. The effort has raised more than $148,000 from people around the world. A trust has been created to help with tax issues and to ensure the funds are used specifically to help James and not get spent on drugs or alcohol.

On Thursday, Whittington flew to Boston to meet James for the first time.

“Thanks for everything,” James said during their meeting in an NBC affiliate studio.

“Thank YOU — you’re the one who deserves the thank you for sure,” Whittington responded.