The freak accident during a nighttime bike ride left the 31-year-old with a broken neck. Doctors weren't entirely sure if he'd ever walk again.
John Eder, a Trader Joe's crew member (the store has this wacky nautical theme where employees are called "crew members," the manager is called the "captain," the assistant managers are called "mates" and so on), started a GoFundMe page to help out with
"I would like to
"When I went to
One customer even bought him a new safari hat.
The famously crowded parking lot wasn't the same without
"This place is a madhouse without him," Melendez says. "Everyone came in asking for him. Him being here makes a big difference. Just his presence, his energy."
"This used to be the worst parking lot I ever worked, man," says
Fortunately, he was able to sign up for health insurance while he was hospitalized, and the majority of his medical expenses was covered. But the money raised from customers and crew members helped pay his expenses during the 10 months he was recuperating. He even got to go home to the Philippines to see his family and three sons.
But Mabolis says it's good to be back in the Trader Joe's parking lot.
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"People are very nice,"
Says Melendez: "He's a really kind person. He didn't let this bring him down. We're hoping to get him back on two wheels soon!"