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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — After being attacked by two men in October, John Budenas says doing even the little things right now has become a frustrating task.

What You Need To Know

  • John Budenas says he was beaten by two strangers in October
  • He suffered several broken bones and needed surgery to help in the healing process
  • His friend, a local bartender, set up a GoFundMe page for him that’s raised more than $8,100 so far
  • They hope more people will contribute to the page to help him with his growing medical bills

“You can’t get dressed and you’re almost nonfunctional,” he said.

He’s a single man living in St. Petersburg with no family and works at Tropicana Field during the baseball season.

Most days, you’ll find him at Our Bar on 28th Street North, a local watering hole.

One night in October, Budenas said he was walking home when out of nowhere, two men attacked him.

“I didn’t see a weapon until the last second when he started swinging it,” Budenas said.

He says two guys got out of a car just up the street from the bar and began to beat him with a tire iron.

“He hit me with it and I went down and basically stayed almost unconscious at that point,” he said.

Budenas says he woke up 15 minutes later and saw the men leave.

Police say they believe these are the same two men who were accused of beating a man to death in Clearwater Beach later that night.

At the time, Clearwater Police’s deputy chief said the men showed no remorse and blamed the attacks on “the ills of society.”

“I laid there for 15 minutes trying to get somebody to stop because I had a small flashlight and I was shining the flashlight on the cars,” Budenas said.

But with no one stopping, he said he had to get up and walk to the nearby Wawa just to call the police, because he couldn’t use his own phone.

“Your phone will not work if the blood is on the screen,” he said.

Budenas eventually got picked up by an ambulance and was taken to the hospital where he was told the attack left him with a broken arm, two broken ribs and a finger that was essentially split open.

“Was right down the middle, gone,” he said.

But Budenas said he knows, considering what happened in Clearwater, it could have been worse.

“I was really lucky,” he said. “It was all luck. It could have been me (who died).”

As he tries to recover from his injuries and the surgeries performed to repair them, medical expenses are piling up and Budenas said he’s on a fixed income.

Even though he doesn’t have family by blood, he’s got family in the form of Katie Pearson.

“John has been a constant since I started,” said Pearson, a bartender at Our Bar.

Pearson works at Our Bar four days a week and said she looks forward to seeing Budenas at his usual spot. 

The night of his attack, she was concerned when the next day came and he wasn’t there.

“I heard about it on the news that night and I said, ‘Please don’t let that be John,’” she said.

When she found out it was him, it didn’t take long for her to try and help a good friend and loyal customer.

“If anybody deserves it, it’s him,” she said. “Because he’s just such a good person, and like a kind, gentle soul.”

She started a GoFundMe page to help pay for medical expenses not too long ago, and as of Thursday, it had raised more than $8,100.

“Katie’s the best,” Budenas said. “If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have been able to get this far.”

Budenas and Pearson said they are hoping more people will be willing to help when they learn about what happened.

Though his road of recovery is long, Budenas said he’s thankful that generosity is shining through a horrific incident, even as he continues to deal with it.

The two men accused of being involved with this incident and the murder in Clearwater Beach have been arrested — one at the end of October and the other in beginning of November., or any other third-party online fundraiser, is not managed by Spectrum Bay News 9 or Spectrum News 13. For more information on how GoFundMe works and its rules, visit

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