SOUTH CUMMINSVILLE, Ohio — Every day 17-year-old Breontay Evans makes the 20-minute walk from his house to the corner of Beekman and Elmore streets in South Cumminsville.
Once there, he does a few pushups and stretches to gear himself up to make a few sales under the footbridge, where Evans sells bottled water and Gatorade from his small cooler with wheels.
“I just be out here grinding. Really, that’s it,” he said.
He turns on music and jams out between each sale.
“It’s a blessing every time someone rides past me and buys water, even if it’s one water,” he said. “Even if they are just supporting, it's a blessing because I used to do anything for some money.”
The “anything” included bad decisions, he said -- stealing food and going down what he calls a “bad path” last year when he was 16.
“I was just getting out there and going to the stores with my little friends and taking little food and eating the food because I was hungry,” he said.
Then, a neighbor told him there was a better way to live and showed him how to become a “water entrepreneur,” he said.
“Certain people come in your life for reasons. I feel like his reason [for] coming in my life was to show me better,” said Evans. “It was God coming into my life, and I accepted him into my life.”
His mother, Brandy Evans, said she noticed her son was falling behind.
“That is when my neighbor talked to him and told him you can start here,” she said. “There’s always places that you can start where you don’t have to fall behind like you are.”
A local woman, Latrice Williams, posted a picture on Facebook of Breontay selling his wares. Her post said in part, “All you have to do is ride down Beekman and he’s going to be right under the bridge selling his candy, water, Gatorade, etc. He’s always respectful, he says thank you and God bless you anytime you buy something from him. Lil baby could be doing all the wrong things but he chose this, so I RESPECT IT.”
The post went viral, with followers sharing it nearly 900 times and commenting on how much they appreciated Breontay’s efforts.
“He always says, ‘God bless you’ -- it's so hard to hear kids these days even say ‘God,’” she told WCPO. “We got to let these babies know when they are doing a good thing so they won’t go off and do the wrong stuff.”
Breontay said people such as Williams, who stop and show support, motivate to keep selling water and making a better life. He reinvests the money he makes into his water business and said his goal is to help his family get out of poverty.
“It feels great just to know that I don’t have to be out here selling drugs or nothing like that. It just feels great, like a blessing,” he said. “I want my family to see that I took it a long way.”