NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Larry Selman was a man who many thought would never be independent, but he defied the odds and ended up taking care of countless others.
As WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported, Selman was honored on Tuesday with the renaming of a street in the West Village.
When Selman was born, doctors did not expect him to make it 24 hours. He lived 70 years, and it is how he lived – not his low IQ – that made him special.
“It’s easy for people to get lost in the crowd,” said City Councilman Corey Johnson (D-3rd).
But everyone knew where to find Selman – right at the corner of Bedford and Grove streets, where he sat asking anyone who passed to give what they could.
“He did it for over 40 years,” said Alice Elliott, who made a documentary on Selman.
But Selman did not seek donations for himself. He did it for 9/11 families, for AIDS research, to retire horses from the stable, and for St. Vincent’s Hospital.
“Over the course of his life, he raised probably about half a million dollars,” Elliott said.
Selman’s 2002 documentary, “The Collector of Bedford Street,” was nominated for an Oscar.
“He became my best friend, and he actually helped me have two careers,” Elliott said.
“It was just sort of part of his nature to help others,” said Sally Dill, who was a neighbor of Selman’s and his longtime travel companion.
Dill said New Yorkers could learn “acceptance” from Selman.
“It sounds corny and hokey, but it really is true that one person – no matter who they are, no matter what their abilities are – can make a difference,” Johnson said.
Selman’s corner officially received the honorary name “Larry Selman Way” on Wednesday.