NASHVILLE, Tenn. — TikToker Tyler Williams used his following on social media to collect tens of thousands of dollars for a pair of brothers who were living out of their car to help them get back on their feet.
Williams said he was washing his hands in a bar restroom when he noticed the bathroom attendant getting emotional after a patron had tipped him $200.
Realizing how much that money meant to him, Williams decided to tip the man as well.
"He kind of opened up and told us a story about how, you know, during in December, him and his brother were living at home with their mom. And unfortunately, unexpectedly, she had passed away," Williams said. "And after that, they couldn't afford to pay the bills for the home that they were living in, and him and his brother were sleeping in their car for the past, like, seven months."
Williams decided to post about the man, Adrian, and his brother, Javon, on his TikTok account when he got home. He asked his followers to help out if they wanted.
Typically, Williams' content on his social platforms tends to be light-hearted.
"My whole platform is to really kind of, 'celebrate normalcy,'" he said.
So, Williams was stunned when he checked his account in the morning.
"When I woke up the next morning, it was $10,000 in my Venmo account for them, and within a day, we got $17,000, plus for those two," he said. "I was just really blown away by that. It was really heartwarming. It took a couple of days to really sink in and everything and be able to process it. But it was a really incredible thing to see how many good people there are still in this world."
Several days later, Williams invited the brothers over for dinner and surprised them with the money.
"This all happened because I saw someone else perform a random act of kindness, and you never know who's around or who you can inspire by doing something good for people," Williams said.
The outpouring of support has continued as more strangers continue to donate to a GoFundMe page that's been set up for Adrian and Javon.
Williams said he is in touch with the brothers almost daily as he continues to help them navigate setting up bank accounts and looking for an apartment. Both Adrian, 23, and Javon, 20, now have full-time jobs and are on the path to renting their own apartment.
As he reflected back on the past few weeks, Williams said he hopes people do not see him as the "hero."
"All I did was make a video and share a story, right?" Williams said. "I'm not the one that gives credit to at all; it's, you know, over 1,200-plus people that wanted to donate and help them. Over 1,200 people strangers cared about a stranger, about these people they didn't know, and trusted me, a person they don't know personally, with their money to do the right thing with it."
He hopes what happened will inspire others with influence on the internet to use their following to do good when the opportunity presents itself.
"Influencers should really stop and smell the roses a little bit and understand that and understand that their social influence that they have can be used to do really, really, good things in the world," Williams said.
This story was originally published by Claire Kopsky on Scripps station WTVF in Nashville.