CHICAGO (CBS) — Lady Luck is finally shining on Kevin Kearns.

It hasn’t always been that way. He’s homeless and lives in his van.

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Last week we told you he had to sell heirlooms, his grandfather’s military medals.

What happened next changed his life.

CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole has this update.

It is old, rusty and striped GMC van and for over a year it has been Kevin Kearns’ home.

“It’s better than on the street,” he said.

There are all sorts of reasons why people become homeless.

“I am here. I am alive. It could be worse,” Kearns said.

For him it was years of hard labor.

“It’s my fault. Forty-three years of doing concrete work taking its toll,” Kearns said. “Broke this ankle, had five surgeries, broken this, broke my arm, broke my elbow. Had a lot of breaks.”

To help pay for one more surgery, he decided to part with a treasure in the back of his van: A picture of his British grandfather from World War I and his three framed medals.

He went to Crystal Lake’s Trading Post, where owner Pete Kozysa vlogs his transactions on his YouTube channel.

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The medals weren’t worth more than $50 each, but reaction on the channel was so great, Kozysa put them up for sale on eBay, intending to give the funds to Kearns.

There were bids up to $15,000 – but in the end, the high bids turned out to be fake.

“That’s really the question: Can we, me and you guys, try to help Kevin,” asked Kozysa.

He then did the next best thing: He started a GoFundMe for Kevin, challenging the YouTube community to pitch in, and in hours he raised thousands.

“Not only are we going to raise money for him, but we are going to give him the medals back,” Kozysa said.

“Good that people care because there is a lot of us out there,” Kearns said.

Kevin is not alone. He has an artist daughter in college he says he loves very much.

But today, thanks to strangers, he’s feeling a bit more loved.

“I am alive and breathing. Don’t put me in the lake. I can’t swim anymore, laughed Kearns.

At last check, Kevin Kearns GoFundMe page was over $8,000 dollars. Donations are coming in primarily from Kozysa’s YouTube community that’s 140,000 strong.

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And he’s challenged other YouTubers to pitching too.