Well-known 'Elote Man' vendor left helpless after bike crash

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A beloved member of Houston's East End community is learning he is not alone in his time of need.

Emilio Vargas is a well-known street vendor known in the East End as the "Elote Man" because he has been selling the Mexican street corn from his bike and cart for decades.

The 68-year-old hasn't been able to ride since Sunday when he was involved in a crash. He told ABC13 that while working, he thought it was safe to cross at Navigation and Milby. He ran a red light and was struck by another car. The impact sent him tumbling. He broke his shoulder. His bike, which is his livelihood, was totaled.

"He said, 'What am I going to do without my bike?'" his friend Yolanda Galvan said.

Vargas has no family in the United States. The community has now jumped in to help.

"Here's this man, almost 70 years old, working everyday, hard, in the heat or not, just to make a living. Just to survive. Without any family or anyone else to back him up. Why wouldn't you help?" Galvan asked.

Supporters have set up a GoFundMe account. People have donated. One couple is giving him a new bike. Galvan and her family and friends are providing food and have covered Vargas' rent. The support is overwhelming.

"I just thank all these people," Vargas told ABC13, with tears welling in his eyes.

Vargas will not be able to work for at least four months as he recovers. The East End "Elote Man" will be missed, but he'll be back.

"He's ready to get back on his bike," Vargas added.

A fundraiser is scheduled for Nov. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Republic Country Club in Stafford. All proceeds from Elote sales will go to Emilio Vargas.

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