A fundraiser for slain Nashville school custodian Mike Hill, a father of 8 affectionately known as “Big Mike,” has collected more than $350,000 in just one day — over 14 times its goal.
“Mike, thank you for protecting Nashville’s children,” said the verified GoFundMe appeal set up by Nashville parents “dedicated to honoring this hero.”
“Mike deserves to be remembered for his selfless act protecting our children,” it said of the 61-year-old custodian who was one of three school staffers gunned down alongside three 9-year-old students.
“Mike was the beloved father of eight children. More notably, he was ‘Big Mike’ to his students, who will surely feel his loss in the years to come,” wrote organizer Anne Puricelli.
“Mike’s family deserves peace of mind that his loss was not in vain and that some good can come from it. His legacy can live on through goodwill and love. In the end, love should always win.”
As of Wednesday, the fundraiser is the only one verified by GoFundMe for an individual victim of Monday’s school shooting. However, one for all the victims was close to reaching its $250,000 goal by early Wednesday.
The “Big Mike” appeal had sought $25,000 for “Mike’s family to put towards funeral services, expenses and to further dedicate to causes close to their hearts to facilitate healing in the Covenant and Nashville communities.”
It quickly spiraled past that, with more than 7,000 people donating, including more than 30 people giving $1,000 or more. Two anonymous donors each gave $5,000.
“Mike’s family is aware of this fundraising effort and has been beyond moved by the outpouring of love,” Puricelli said.
On Tuesday, Pastor Tim Dunavant — a former employee of The Covenant school who hired Hill — said his friend was “the kind of guy” who would have sacrificed himself to save others.
Another friend, Jim Bachmann, told WKRN that it “took [his] breath away” to learn that Hill was one of the six murdered by 28-year-old trans gunman Audrey Hale.
Hill was a “salt to the earth kind of fellow,” Bachmann told the outlet of the “big strong fellow” who “would know the kids by name.”
“He didn’t deserve this,” he said. “He was a sweet man.”