Coconut vendor thanks public as $ needed raised in one day

Injured coconut vendor Tony Sammy is happy and heartened by the support he's received from the public. Thanks to their help, he raised $2,500 on Monday alone for physical therapy on his right hand.

Sammy, 56, has been selling coconuts around the Savannah for almost 18 years.

On the afternoon of March 14, Sammy was chopped on the head, shoulder and right wrist by a homeless man as he sold coconuts by the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain.

He was taken to the Port of Spain General Hospital.

His attacker was held hours after the attack.

Sammy's condition was highlighted on social media on Monday by gymnast Thema Williams, who said his coconuts "does rell lash."

She called on the public to help him, posting that Sammy needed $1,900 for surgery.

Newsday visited the cart opposite Queen's Royal College on Tuesday afternoon and spoke to Sammy who said he liked his privacy and did not want to disclose many details about himself. He didn't even want to be photographed for this story. But he clarified that in fact he did not need surgery, only physiotherapy, so that he can once again chop coconuts using two hands, once the flexibility in his right wrist is restored.

"I have all the help I need for now and I'm very grateful for that. I'm happy for the support," he said.

Sammy returned to work at the Savannah within a few months of the attack.

Newsday also spoke to a friend and co-worker of Sammy's, who did not want to be named.

She said physical therapy sessions were being arranged for him at a private medical clinic in Tacarigua.

While she was grateful for the assistance from the public, she said they did not want any more donations given to her or Sammy directly, as they had already reached the target figure.

"We help him out as best as we can. He is like family to us. So before the end of the day we will be able to tell how much the physical therapy sessions cost, but we will cover the cost.

"We were happy for the assistance, but we have already reached the amount specified and we don't want people thinking that we are just using the attention for money. We are very private people."

On her Instagram account Williams also clarified that Sammy now had the funds he needed and thanked the public for their help. She also visited Sammy's cart again on Tuesday afternoon and said she was happy he had received such an outpouring of support and goodwill.

Williams said she has been buying coconuts from him since 2014.

"From the time he told me about his situation, the first thing that came to mind was to help him.

"My first thought was to assist. Our coconut and snocone vendors are essential, and seeing him going from chopping a coconut with one motion to having such difficulties made me want to extend a helping hand.

"It's a testament to how social media figures could enact change and how these platforms could be used for positive activities," Williams said.


"Coconut vendor thanks public as $ needed raised in one day"

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