NYC photographer rallies strangers to send little boy on a Wild West Adventure

Nadine Kalinauskas

Photographer Brandon Stanton is attempting to create a photographic census of New York City, capturing each resident of America's most populous city, in a project he's called Humans of New York.

Earlier this week, Stanton ran into a little boy, 6-year-old Rumi, with his mother in Washington Square Park. They were selling cowboy supplies.

"We're saving up for a horse," they told him.

He posted their photo — and story — on Facebook:

"After speaking with Rumi's mother, I learned that Rumi has loved horses his entire life. He has horse themed shirts, toys, and backpacks. All those things are great. But Rumi's biggest dream is to own a horse. "You can get one for $1000!" he told me. After a full afternoon of selling cowboy supplies, he'd raised $1. He seemed a little downtrodden by the afternoon's results, but committed to his ultimate goal," Stanton wrote.

[ More Lighter Side: Viral photo: Dog and horse are inseparable ]

That night, Stanton did some research and learned that owning a horse was an expensive undertaking sure to be almost impossible for Rumi and his family.

"So I thought of a plan. Let's send Rumi on a Wild West Adventure! With the size of the HONY audience, it'd be quite a simple thing to do. I spent all last night making phone calls, and threw in $300 to get us started. Please consider tossing a few coins in the [cowboy] hat," Stanton wrote, linking his Facebook friends to a fundraising page.

Stanton talked to Rumi's parents, who approved his plan.

"This is a very good time for something good to happen to Rumi," the boy's mother said.

"For $7,000, we can send Rumi and his parents on an all-expenses-paid trip to Drowsy Water Ranch, 90 miles outside of Denver. (This includes airfare, transportation, lodging, all meals, and a variety of activities). Drowsy Water is consistently ranked as one of the nation's top ranches for families," he wrote on Indiegogo.

Within 15 minutes, the $7,000 goal was surpassed. To date, almost $30,000 has been raised.

"Entire amount was raised in 15 minutes. Enough to mist the eyes of even the most trail-hardened cowboys. Thanks, everyone," Stanton updated Rumi's fans on Facebook.

"I would like to send a shout out to Rumi's mother, who was willing to support her son on what probably seemed like an impossible mission. Selling toys to buy a horse??? In NYC??? How many of us would have tried to talk a child out of this to save us time during our busy day. It is a reminder that we should all slow down and be willing to let a situation play out..She followed her child's dream and just look what happened," wrote Kelly Berman Skaller on Facebook.

One reader offered half a paycheque to help make Rumi's dream come true. Someone else offered Rumi a week's worth of free riding lessons at an equestrian centre in Illinois.