- May 19, 2021
The 280 people who attended the luau-themed Beach Party at the Lakewood Ranch Elks Lodge 2855 knew they were going to get a quality dinner Oct. 13 with volunteers outside the lodge roasting pigs.
But they came for something else, and when the time came, they responded.
The event was a fundraiser for the Homes for Our Troops organization, and when disabled Army veteran Michael Monthervil came into the room, he was greeted with a standing ovation.
Monthervil, who suffered a spinal cord injury during a training drill in 2014 in Afghanistan, looked out at the crowd and did his best to hold back tears welling up in his eyes. He regained his composure and thanked those in attendance for their support.
Elks Veterans Committee Chairman Tom Sweeney estimated the event raised in excess of $7,000 for Homes for Our Troops, which is building Monthervil a specially equipped home in Wimauma, where he lives. The home will be ready next September.
"The home will give him back a little of the independence he lost being in Afghanistan for us," said Deb Kehoe, who runs the annual Rosedale Golf Classic to benefit Homes for Our Troops at the Rosedale Golf & Country Club. Kehoe contacted the Elks about helping the organization and it just so happened the Elks were looking to host a major fundraiser and hadn't identified a beneficiary.
"It was the perfect storm," Kehoe said. "This is a phenomenal amount of people showing their support. I'm blown away."
Sweeney said the event was supposed to be capped at 200, but the demand was too high.
"We bumped it to 250, then 280," he said.