Beloved school custodian 'Mr. Lee' getting help to pay for back surgery so he can avoid wheelchair

Students and teachers in a Dallas-area school district have launched a fundraising effort to pay for extensive back surgery for a beloved elementary school custodian -- so they can help him avoid having to use a wheelchair.

Lee Hamilton – affectionately known as “Mr. Lee” – is described at Puster Elementary School in Collin County as a hard worker and positive influence on students.

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To help pay for his medical bills and living expenses, the community launched a GoFundMe page. As of early Thursday, it raised $23,350, exceeding a $17,000 goal.

“It’s overwhelming. I didn't know I touched so many people,” Hamilton told FOX 4 of Dallas-Fort Worth. “It's been amazing, and I appreciate everything they did for me.”

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Hamilton also serves as a caregiver for his wife, who has multiple sclerosis. His first surgery is scheduled for March 20.