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Instead of Ignoring A Homeless Man, He Took A Photo That Saved His Life

Johnny Servantez - Facebook

How many times in a day (or a week, month, year) do we walk past a homeless person begging on the street without even saying a word?

It's a serious problem, but one that most of us are happy to ignore - we just walk on by, maybe drop a coin in their cup if we're feeling generous.

But the story of Johnny Rhoades is a reminder to us all that a little caring can make a world of difference.

Because instead of walking on, like he usually does, a man from Indianapolis took a picture that changed a homeless man's life.

"This guy's stomach was hitting his back and his ribs [were] popping out."

Johnny Servantez admits that he has a hard and fast rule about never giving money to panhandlers.

He says that "they are 99% [liars]," but even Servantez couldn't resist helping Johnny Rhoades.

The shirtless man was sitting in a traffic island outside of a flea market, looking like a skeleton. As Servantez said, "this guy's stomach was hitting his back and his ribs [were] popping out."

Servantez gave Rhoades some money, but also snapped a picture of him and shared it on Facebook.

"If you are at Thompson and Madison, throw him a buck or two at least," he urged his friends. "This man is suffering from starvation."

Soon, the picture was shared more than 1,000 times, and Servantez added photos of kind people who paid the poor man a visit.

Eventually, the picture reached someone very unlikely: Johnny's brother, Danny, who had not seen or heard from the homeless man in seven years.

"I'm so sick to my stomach right now."

"I'm so sick to my stomach right now," Danny told local news station RTV6 about the viral photo of his brother.

"I can't function to know someone is living this way and looks this bad."

Team Johnny Rhoades
Johnny, his late mother, and his brother Danny.Team Johnny Rhoades - Facebook

He revealed that his brother had lost contact with the rest of his family after their mother died, and Danny had no idea his condition was so bad before seeing the photo.

Sadly, Johnny had moved on since Servantez took the picture, and Danny could not find him.

But a devoted group of Rhoades' online "fans" tracked him through local sightings, until the brothers could finally meet face to face.

"He had two meals, a [hot] shower, a pair of clean clothes, a room to himself with quiet, a king size bed, tv w/ cable, fridge, a microwave, Pepsi, & leftovers," said Amy Renae Smith, who ran a Facebook page devoted to helping Rhoades.

"He is safe, and resting."

Back On The Streets

Sadly, Danny was not able to help his brother for very long.

While Rhoades' supporters sent up a GoFundMe page for him, and the money was used to help him, Rhoades simply would not agree to get the help he needed to move off the streets - and could not be forced.

Johnny Rhoades
Johnny with his relatives.Team Johnny Rhoades

"He's out there again today. Just drove by him," a supporter commented last month.

"Yeah I just saw him out there 5 minutes ago. Skin and bones again," added another.

Earlier this year, Danny thanked his brothers online supporters, but explained that nothing more could be done.

"Johnny has chosen his path," he explained. "When or if the day comes that Johnny is ready for help, he will seek out help."

"I want to say thank you to everyone that contributed money to the [GoFundMe] account that we had set up. It helped [Danny and Johnny's sister] Lisa to help him for as long as he allowed her to."

While this may seem like an unhappy ending, there's no telling what could have happened to Rhoades if Servantez never stopped to help him and take his picture.

Johnny Rhoades' story - which is not finished yet - is proof that sometimes it's worthwhile to stop, give what you can, and show someone that you care.

[H/T: Liftable]

We're wishing Johnny Rhoades all the best, and hope he can find the help he needs!

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories.