A Brazilian Deliveroo cyclist who intervened during a knife attack outside a Dublin school has said the €368,650, now in his bank account following a GoFundMe appeal, would allow him to start his life again.
43-year-old Caio Benicio was cycling by Gaelscoil Choláiste Mhuire on Parnell St on November 23 at lunchtime when he saw a man stabbing a child with a knife.
He wrestled the attacker to the ground and hit him with his helmet.
Three children were injured in the incident.
A five-year-old child remains in a critical condition at Temple Street hospital.
Creche worker Leanne Flynn, who tried to protect the children during the attack, remains in a serious but stable condition at the Mater hospital.
Following the intervention of Mr Benico, a member of the public, unknown to him, set up a fundraiser called ‘Buy Caio Benicio a pint’.
The fundraiser received thousands of donations which have now been transferred into Mr Benico’s account.
He met with members of the GoFundMe team on Wednesday in Dublin who celebrated by buying him a pint of Guinness.
Just two years ago, Mr Benico was forced to leave Brazil to work in Ireland as a food delivery cyclist after he “lost everything” when his restaurant burned to the ground.
“It was the worst time of my life,” he said. “I had nothing left; everything was gone.
“Then my father died the following year, and I was destitute. I could not provide for my family. I had 15 employees out of work, overheads, rent, and I could not start the business again because this happened in November 2019 just before covid.
“I was very depressed. We had nothing. I came to Ireland to start again, and I believe God put me on Parnell St to help the child.
“I am humbled, and very grateful for the Irish people’s generosity they are among the best in the world”.
Mr Benico said the fire at his restaurant was the second time his “hopes and dreams” were dashed and he had almost given up on ever “finding my feet again”.
As a teenager, he was on the brink of becoming a professional footballer until he injured his knee and an operation ended his career.
“It was my dream to be a footballer,” he said.
Mr Benico had surgery on my knee and “it was never right after that”. He said he was a very good footballer who “had the potential”.
He had been on the books at Fluminense FC who play in the Série A — the top tier of Brazilian football.
“I had to go to London at 18 and find work. Then in London, I became a dad at 24, after I got married at 23.
They spent four years in London. When his daughter, now 19, was born they went home to Brazil.
“I saved money, and we came back and opened my restaurant”.
Mr Benico bought the popular Barkana pub and restaurant in Rio de Janeiro in 2004.
However, on November 21, 2019, a freak accident saw an electrical wire outside the business fall and resulted in his restaurant catching fire.
“It burned everything,” he said. “I had overheads, the insurance did not pay for everything. My staff have no jobs. The insurance could not repair the store. I was closed for five months; I could not carry on. It was a very very tough time. So hard.
“Then at the same time my father found out he had cancer, and he died the next year.
“I was very depressed. My father, Cau, he was 72 and my heart was broken. Everything went wrong for me. I was left with nothing. I could not support my family. I have no money, many debts, and so much pressure.
“I came to Ireland to be a Deliveroo worker and I had to leave my family at home.”
He said his life changed the day he saw the five-year-old child and her creche worker being stabbed.
“There were many rescuers that day, not just me, but somehow as an immigrant here, people they want to help me.
“Two of the children are OK, the five-year-old girl is still in a very bad situation. I spoke with her mother who said she is fighting hard.”
Mr Benico said he feels there has been a change in attitude towards delivery cyclists since he told his story.
“My colleagues, they hug me now, they say there is much respect for them and maybe it helps them. I feel very responsible. But I am loving Ireland everyone could not be kinder to me.
“So, my prayers are with the creche worker and the child. I have many bills to pay, but I can rebuild my own life now, and I told the little girls’ mother I will help with anything she needs.
“I will pay off all of my debts over the restaurant and then I can start again. I will never be able to thank people for this”.
The GoFundMe account comes at a time when the organisation said two of this year’s top five most fundraised accounts were related to the Parnell St stabbings.
The fundraising platform said Ireland was the most generous country, with over 620,000 donations this year alone.