'Trolley Man' Hero Treating Friends To Celebratory Dinner With Funds Raised
The 'Trolley Man' hero of the Bourke Street attack will be spending some of the more than $143,000 raised for him on an well-earned dinner with some friends.
Michael Rogers, who is experiencing homelessness, shot to fame after footage of him running at Bourke Street attacker Hassan Khalif Shire Ali with a trolley was shared around the world.
A GoFundMe account from the National Homelessness Collective was set up to buy Rogers a new phone, which got smashed in the altercation.
But the Australian public got behind him in a big way, donating in the thousands.
"We would like people to remember that Michael has been through a traumatic event and our priority is to make sure he's okay," said the National Homelessness Collective's Donna Stolzenberg, who started the campaign.
"People tend to see it as a 'win' and are expecting him to be happy and excited about the funds. He is extremely grateful, however, the sheer magnitude of the events on Friday is overshadowing any excitement at the moment."
Aside from a small fee incurred by GoFundMe, every cent of the money raised will go to a trust account with an independent body taking care of it, which Stolzenberg said is at Rogers' request.
"Please note that Michael has asked for this support and feels more comfortable taking advice from professionals than handling it all himself," she said.
Rogers already has a new phone -- a vital asset for many people experiencing homelessness -- but has two main wishes to fulfill with the money: a new bike, and a celebratory dinner.
"He wants to buy a bike and take his friends out for a nice dinner," Stolzenberg said, which is "something he wasn't able to do before."
His previous bike was stolen from the city on Monday afternoon while he was talking to media.
Stolzenberg said it was important to remember that Rogers' financial boon came out of trauma, rather than an exciting event.
"Michael is often asked how he feels this money will change his life," she said.
"He isn’t thinking about that at all at the moment however what ever way he chooses for his future is ultimately Michael's choice and we’re happy to support him to follow his own pathway to the future he chooses for himself.
"We will be keeping in touch with Michael and making sure he is mentally supported as well as financially. He deserves some privacy and time to focus on his future now but we will certainly be continuing our support for as long as he needs us.
"We’d like to thank everyone who has donated to support Michael. In our eyes he truly is a hero."