Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Knights of Columbus sails forward with charitable giving in Lakewood Ranch

The Knights at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church have added an Armed Forces Day Charity Golf Tournament to their schedule.

Knights of Columbus council members march in the 2023 Tribute to Heroes Parade.
Knights of Columbus council members march in the 2023 Tribute to Heroes Parade.
Courtesy image
  • East County
  • Neighbors
  • Share

John Coliton has been a member of the Knights of Columbus for over 30 years. His job with UPS relocated him five times during that period. 

“I have never been in a more active Knights of Columbus group in my life,” he said. 

Coliton is one of over 200 members in the council at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church. Men don’t have to be members of the church to join, but they have to be over 18 and Catholic.  

Coliton summed up the commitment as “give what you can when you can.” A group of younger men organize an annual basketball free throw contest and leave it at that. Other members have more time on their hands.

“We have a lot of Type A individuals who were very successful in their careers,” Coliton said. “Now they’re retired, living in this area, and still have the drive and energy to make a lot of good things happen.” 

Coliton may have been describing himself. He worked for UPS for 37 years and retired as the Director of Human Resources Compliance in 2021. Now, he runs his own consulting firm and is currently spending about 20 hours a week planning a golf tournament for the Knights that will benefit veterans.

Deputy Grand Knight Gordon Shellhaas and Membership Director John Coliton attend the Patriotic Ball in February.
Photo by Lesley Dwyer

Coliton is a Fourth Degree Knight, which means the focus is on patriotism by way of giving to veterans and first responders. The council, as a whole, upholds four key principles: Charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism. 

The golf tournament will be held at the Tara Golf and Country Club on May 6, Armed Forces Day. Proceeds will be divided between the Military Chaplain’s Fund and Southeastearn Guide Dogs for Veterans.  

“We’ve seen firsthand how a dog can help a veteran through (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and other issues they have, Coliton said. “And the Military Chaplain’s Fund could use additional funding. There aren’t many athiests in a fox hole when rounds are coming at you.” 

The Knights have fundraisers year round, but they don’t keep a bank account with growing funds. As soon as the money comes in, it goes back out again. 

The group held a Patriotic Ball in February and raised $11,000 for the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which builds homes for veterans and first responders.

The fundraising goal for the golf tournament is $15,000, and the Knights are still accepting golfers, diners, sponsors and silent auction items. 

The tournament includes a round of golf followed by dinner at the club, but you don’t have to golf to eat. Sponsorship opportunities range from $150 up to $5,000. The deadline is April 15. 

However, Fourth Degree Knights do more than fundraise for veterans. They put their values into action by having lunch with veterans at assisted living facilities each month and making hospice and hospital visits as needed. 

“We’re people who want to help people that need help,” Coliton said. “We just had 44 people volunteer to give blood. We gave 46 units of blood; that’s going to save over 100 lives.”  

In association with One Blood, the Knights council hosts a monthly blood drive. Annually, the Knights fundraise for the Special Olympics, St. Michael Catholic Church in Wauchula, Habitat for Humanity and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

A crew of Knights help build homes for Habitat for Humanity in November 2023.
Courtesy image

In addition to balls, blood drives and golf tournaments, the nonprofit holds car shows, Tootsie Roll drives and collects coats in the winter. They march in Lakewood Ranch’s Tribute to Heroes parade and host pasta dinners and an annual fish fry. 

If you like baseball, there’s one more reason to consider knighthood. Since 2008, the Knights have manned the concession stands at Ed Smith Stadium during Baltimore Orioles spring training games. 

With 21 home games, the council raises funds each year to give to local charities. With two concession stands to cover, it takes over 100 Knights and their family members to cover the 6.5-hour shifts. 

“It’s impressive as heck when you have all these men and women who are working together for wonderful causes in support of our faith, our families and also the local community,” Coliton said.  



Lesley Dwyer

Lesley Dwyer is a staff writer for East County and a graduate of the University of South Florida. After earning a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical writing, she freelanced for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Lesley has lived in the Sarasota area for over 25 years.

Latest News