Airport Pianist “Overwhelmed” By $60,000 Tip From Strangers Online

An immensely gifted pianist at an airport shed tears when he learned that a wonderful stranger was able to raise more than $60,000 in tips for him through social media.

Tonee Carter, the man they call “Valentine” was playing at a piano bar in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia in July when motivational speaker and author Carlos Whittaker noticed him.

The two ended up talking and, as a new fan, Whittaker decided to share Valentine’s story with his quarter of a million Instagram followers.

Whittaker told Fox 5 Atlanta:

“I just saw this guy playing the piano, just having the time of his life. Nobody was really paying attention to him. It was 10 in the morning and I thought, I’m going to go sit and hang out.”

Image: Tonee “Valentine” Carter

Valentine discovered his passion when he was just 5-years-old and his piano journey took him out in the sea where he played to audiences on cruise ships for more than 10 years. For the last few years, however, he had been playing at the airport while on dialysis due to kidney failure.

Image: Tonee “Valentine” Carter/Good Morning America

When Whittaker saw that Valentine had nothing in his tip jar he immediately urged his fans to tip him through Venmo.

And within 30 minutes, the crowd of kind strangers raised $10,000 for Valentine.

Whittaker went on to say:

“One-hundred, seventy-five thousand strangers that loved your piano playing and I asked them to give you money… Now, I gotta go catch a flight. But you are loved. You’re adored. I don’t know what you need with 10,000 dollars but it’s yours.”


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A post shared by Carlos Whittaker (@loswhit)

A few days later, people managed to raise more than $60,000 for Valentine, which “overwhelmed” him and caused him to start “bawling”, Good Morning America reported.

The performer said that what Whittaker and his followers did for him gave him new hope for the human race:

“When people do things like that, total strangers and they hear my story and they want to give me a gift like that. Thankful is inadequate. I want to give back and help people like he’s doing.”


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A post shared by Carlos Whittaker (@loswhit)

Even though Valentine intends to spend some of the money to change the oil in his car, he wants to donate most of it to the American Kidney Foundation.


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A post shared by Toneepianoman (@toneepianoman)

He went on to explain:

“That money’s not mine. I’m going to be paying it forward.”

For Fox 5 Atlanta’s report on the story, please see the video below.

What are your thoughts on this heartwarming story? Let us know by joining the conversation in the comments and please share this article if you’ve found it of value.

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