'I'm grateful because I didn't know people cared like that': south Minneapolis woman on outpouring of support

Updated: June 08, 2020 05:27 AM
Created: June 07, 2020 08:30 AM

Those who watched 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS's breaking news coverage last weekend might remember Stephanie Wilford from south Minneapolis.

Reporter Ben Henry talked with her about George Floyd's death, the damage from Friday night's riots, and her heartbreak about it all.

'People did this for no reason': community reaction to riots, neighborhood damage

It's been quite a week for Wilford, her community, and the hundreds of people who have reached out who wanted to help her and her neighbors. 

Henry reports Wilford is well, she has been staying with family just outside the Twin Cities. 

After 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS connected with her last Saturday, she said the donations and care poured in for her and her neighbors in south Minneapolis. 

"I'm grateful because I didn't know people cared like that," Wilford said. "I didn't, I didn't know people cared. A lot of people don't want to be bothered but these people honestly care about what happens over there. And I'm grateful to everybody, including you for putting my truth out there."

The video of the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS interview with Wilford has so far received 4.5 million views on social media and Wilford's story has gotten the attention of many, including Minnesota Viking Kyle Rudolph. 

Rudolph shared the clip to inspire people to donate to what turned into a successful food drive in south Minneapolis on Friday.

It didn’t stop at local professional athletes – the coverage got the attention of Wilford’s favorite actor, Tyler Perry. Wilford’s powerful message was strong enough to have Perry call her. 

“I didn’t believe it at first,” Wilford said about the phone call.

But then, she said he used his ‘Madea’ voice. 

“I said, ‘Madea, is that you?' And, he started talking like her, and I was like, 'Oh my God,'" she said with a big smile.

On top of going viral and getting a phone call from an A-Lister, a GoFundMe page was created to help Wilford.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS connected with the page creator, Jill Sims, who said after not finding one set up, she started one and it took off – tens of thousands of dollars have been raised for Wilford.

Sims is from the metro, but doesn’t know Wilford – the two have met and made an instant connection that will likely last for a long time.

Wilford has had health issues and has a handicap that makes it hard for her to get around. With all the support, she said she hopes to find peace and relax. 

“I did not know that many people cared,” Wilford said while starting to tear up. “Thank you for everything you’re doing – I can’t say that enough. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

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