A fund set up for the homeless victim of Miami's notorious face-eating attack has collected a whopping $100,700 in less than seven weeks.
The donations will first help cover health care costs for 65-year-old Ronald Poppo, who was lazing in a shady spot on the MacArthur Causeway's Downtown exit ramp May 26 when brutally attacked by a naked Rudy Eugene. Poppo's nose and most of his upper face were ripped and gnawed off in the horrifying, 18-minute attack, which was caught on nearby surveillance cameras.
Poppo, who has been homeless in Miami since the mid-to-late 1970s, is covered by Medicare and Medicaid according to officials at Jackson Memorial Hospital. But there is no tally to date on the costs to treat his severe injuries, nor an estimate for longterm care.
"I don't think anyone has any idea of what that cost would be," Larry Clark, director of communications for the Jackson Memorial Foundation, told HuffPost. Any remaining funds would be distributed directly to Poppo.
Most of the donations through JMF have been small amounts ranging from $10-$100 from several hundred people, Clark said, with one generous individual giving $2,000. A second fund set up at Give Forward has collected $23,623, which is scheduled to be donated to the Jackson Memorial fund on August 31 -- putting the total raised for Poppo so far at $124,323.
Doctors said last month that the "extremely charming" patient is coping "remarkably well" after the attack, which ended when a Miami police officer fatally shot Eugene as he crouched over Poppo, reportedly with pieces of Poppo's flesh still hanging from his mouth.
"It's amazing," said JMH/University of Miami trauma surgeon Nicholas Namias of Poppo, who was previously shot in Miami's Bayfront Park by an unknown assailant in 1976. "He's an extremely charming man. You talk to him, he's very upbeat, he's very pleasant, he hasn't said one thing negative to me. Every time I ask him how he's doing, he says he's doing fine."
"I pray you are able to fully recover from this and continue on with your life," wrote a Give Forward donor, sandwiched between messages from as far away as France and New Zealand. "The fact that you remain to have such a positive attitude throughout all of this is such an inspiration to me."
HOW YOU CAN HELP: The Jackson Memorial Foundation has set up a fund to assist Ronald Poppo in his recovery, which experts in facial reconstruction have said will include lengthy treatment, staged reconstruction, and psychological care. Donations can be made by check or online at jmf.org.
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