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After 'Walking Man' Is Attacked, Nephew Starts Fundraising Drive

WBBM's Steve Miller

(CBS) -- He is a familiar sight to people who live or work downtown: The Walking Man.

His nephew has now started a Go Fund Me page for his medical expenses after he was beaten on the streets he has walked for so many years.

WBBM's Steve Miller reports.

His real name is Joseph Kromelis, and he is 69 years old.

Walking Dude, September 2010. by Bart Heird on YouTube

After being beaten Tuesday morning, police say he declined to press charges.

"The word that my wife got from the hospital was his eyes were almost gouged out," says the Walking Man's nephew, Vytas Vaitkus, who started the fundraising drive.

"I know he doesn't have any money. He's basically been a street peddler his entire life, for as long as I've known him. That's all he's ever done," Vaitkus says.

"He never really had a formal job or anything. He doesn't really have anything. My concern is he's going to be discharged from the hospital and, at best, he's going to have trouble seeing, if he regains his sight at all.  And I just think the money would be a great benefit to him."

Vaitkus says his uncle hasn't been in touch with the family for a decade. He says he was surprised to find out so many people knew Kromelis as the Walking Dude.

"I was amazed, literally amazed.  I can't believe he's had so much recognition just walking the streets of Chicago," he says.

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