‘Numb from the generosity’

‘Numb from the generosity’

One Lehigh Acres veteran is still “numb from the generosity” he received from the Wounded Warrior Anglers Acts of Kindness Emergency Fund, earlier this month.

“It’s just awesome,” Allen Sparks, a U.S. Air Force veteran, said. “My heart and soul goes out to you guys. I appreciate it to no end.”

Wounded Warrior Anglers Acts of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund Committee Member Keith Campbell said a few weeks ago Mary Jo Sparks reached out to him when her husband Allen went missing. He said Allen had suffered a stroke when he was found, which left him in the hospital for a few days.

“Mary Jo had reached out to me again saying she was behind on financial bills and didn’t know where to turn to as far as help,” Campbell said, adding that he guided them to a couple of veteran organizations, including Wounded Warrior Anglers.

He presented the Sparks with a $2,500 check on Tuesday, May 5 to help them financially.

Mary Jo Sparks, Allen Sparks and Keith Campbell.

Mary Jo Sparks, Allen Sparks and Wounded Warrior Anglers Acts of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund Committee Member Keith Campbell.

“It feels good as long as we can get them back on the right page and right direction,” Campbell said. “I hope they can maintain it and move forward in the right direction.”

Allen served in the Air Force from 1987 to 1989 before being honorably discharged with a service related injury. The veteran suffers from many health related issues, including amnesia caused by PTSD. Due to his medical condition, Allen is not able to work, which leaves his wife generating the income to pay the bills.

“It’s like a hand of God that came through,” Allen said of the donation. “It was a beautiful thing. Keith being a long time friend and the people of the Wounded Warriors were awesome. They are great people. It’s a major blessing for that to happen. I don’t know what I would do without an organization like that that would step up.”

The donation, he said will help with his recovery, as well as stress that comes with worrying about paying bills.

“We were able to take a step forward and continue on with strong strides,” Allen said.

He said he has been in the area for 22 years working in the towing business, as well as delivering pizza. Over the years he has grown to know the people of the community, often times helping people broken down on the side of the road.

“People say that you are blessed 10 times over. It seems to be coming back around. I appreciate the people of Lee County that are able to reach out like this,” he said.

Allen said he looks forward to helping the organization, just like they helped him.

“All they have to do is pick up the phone and call and I will be there with bells on,” he said, adding that he offers a hearty gratitude to the organization. “I love them to death and I have some good new friends.”

The Acts of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund also helped Cape Coral resident Joe Boccuzzi’s brother John late last month. He said his brother, a disabled veteran who served during the Gulf War era, is looking to relocate from Ohio to Florida for work.

“I didn’t hesitate to ask any questions,” Campbell said. “If it is going to help them get a job and turn things around for them . . . let’s do it.”

Wounded Warrior Anglers provided $250 to the Boccuzzi family to help pay for John’s flight so he could attend the interviews.

“He wants to work somewhere year round,” Joe said.

During the winter months John, who works in a labor union for a commercial road construction crew, is laid off because of the Ohio winters.

“He has been with the same company for years. The winters are hard and he is getting older and wants to be able to work year round instead of seven or eight months a year,” Joe said.

He heard about Wounded Warrior Anglers during a motorcycle run that was benefiting the organization. After a conversation with President and Founder Dave Souders, he decided to become a member because he too is a veteran.

“There’s no looking back,” Joe said. “It’s a great group of people.”

The Acts of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund became a part of the organization on Oct. 14, 2014. The fund was created to provide appropriate relief to eligible veterans or disabled veterans who experience a qualifying event or emergency.

His patience, his love

Every road I traveled,

eventually led me back to you. 

In the ten years we spent apart, you crossed my mind from time to time. Your face filled my thoughts at the rarest moments, as I wondered where you ended up and how you were doing.

Unfortunately because how things ended when we were younger, a void I did not know needed filling, stayed that way for way too many years. That void was the friendship we built in high school, a foundation that I now know never could be broken even during the years we did not speak.

At the young age of 16, you left an everlasting imprint on my heart. You showed my heart the power of love, the impact a friendship could have on someone. You were my high school sweetheart, the first boy I let into my world.

Still to this day when I hear Metallica playing on the radio, it brings me back to you and the times we spent playing cards on the patio. And to think, that is just one beautiful memory that often times leaves me smiling.

Fast forward to 2009, as a man, you have changed my world completely. I have grown leaps and bounds because of you.

A breakup that I once thought was the end of the world turned into the biggest blessing. That breakup brought me back to you. That foundation we started a decade earlier, quickly resumed as we filled each other in on the time we spent apart.

The healing began. You let me lean on you through a very trying time. Because of you and your patience, the old me resurfaced again. The old me that went into hiding for almost a decade gained her confidence.

I will never forget the embrace you gave me when we finally parted ways the day we went out to lunch. That hug sent me on a journey back to my teen years in a matter of seconds. That hug reassured me that everything was going to be okay.

Jason you are the best thing that has ever happened to me. You have shown me unconditional love. A love that has opened my eyes. A love that continues to guide me as we ride this journey of life together.

One of the many reasons why I love this man, his attention to detail.

Sometimes he can sense how I’m feeling before it hits me by knowing and understanding how I react to situations, the shift in my mood, the looks I give without realizing, my demeanor and the tone in my voice.

Because Jason know’s me so well, I always feel safe when I’m with him.

He knows how to calm me down. He knows just what to say to make whatever I’m feeling in that moment disappear. The patience he showcases in those situations is why the calmness takes hold of me. I can feel the love radiating from him when I hear his calming words, or his touch.

Last night was just another example of how in-tuned Jason is to my world, my experiences, my overall well-being.

Jason and I went to an acoustic Nonpoint concert at Capone’s in Johnson City. It was an amazing show for so many reasons.

When we started dating again in 2009, Jason introduced me to Nonpoint for the first time. A month after we began dating we went to a concert in Cape Coral after I got free tickets. We still talk about that night. Most of the time all we have to say is that Nonpoint concert and we both start shaking our heads and laughing.

Although Jason took me to my first concert while we were in high school, that Nonpoint concert was the first concert I really felt. The sounds of the drums and guitars really grabbed a hold of me, as the lyrics spoke to me.

Last night’s show was amazing. Usually Nonpoint puts on a high energy concert, but last night it was low key as they transformed their music into an acoustic version. I heard every lyric as I watched fingers strum the guitar creating a sound that triggered my feet to begin moving and my hips swaying to the beat.

There truly is no better feeling then listening to music live. I love watching a band translate the songs meaning during a live show.

After the concert ended, the band made a presence near the front door of Capone’s. A line quickly formed as the band posed with one fan after another for a picture. Yep, Jason took my picture with the band, which was awesome. I had the opportunity to tell them that I loved their music and it is great motivation while I run!

It was a great night with Jason. Another night we will talk about for years to come. Another memory I will hold close to my heart.

I will forever be grateful that I was blessed with such a caring, loving, funny man who fully enjoys life.

The life of two

The life of two

Ten-months ago my life forever changed when a little lost and scarred puppy captured my heart. I still remember that day like it was yesterday.

Lucy has been such a blessing, an incredible addition to our little family.

January 9, 2015

January 9, 2015

It’s true, the love and compassion from a dog is like no other. I have received so much comfort and pure happiness from this little nine-pound dog over the past several months.

Every day, Lucy does something that has both Jason and I laughing uncontrollably. The way she plays, sits and stares at you with those beautiful calming eyes, or her cute little quirks, always puts a smile on my face.

The time we spend together away from the house, or even in the backyard, are by far my favorite. Lucy has such an incredible amount of energy that unfolds as soon as you take her off her leash in the backyard. The explosion of speed is hilarious to watch.

January 10, 2015

January 10, 2015

This little puppy has helped in giving me the confidence to go running the Greenbelt path, both with her and now on my own. There’s a certain kind of comfort you feel knowing a dog is with you, no matter how small. She helped in carrying us to new distances while both of us enjoyed the fresh outdoor air. Now, when I know I want to run longer distances, I put on my running gear and head to the Greenbelt.

Lucy has also helped me appreciate the outdoors on yet another level. That appreciation becomes wrapped up in her excitement as soon as we reach a familiar place, the parking lot and then the path. Her curiosity always makes me smile.

When she was three-months old, Lucy also got the taste of going hiking for the first time. She was eager to lead us along the path and find new smells at the bottom of a waterfall that kept her entertained for quite some time.

This little puppy of mine . . .

We are inseparable during the day, yes the beauty of working from home. Lucy always has me within view. In other words, she is either cuddled behind my desk chair, or on my lap snuggled in a ball.

My recent trip to Fort Myers was the first time we were a part since we officially adopted her. The welcome home I received left me speechless with a big ol goofy smile on my face.

There was one point when I sat on the couch and she was instantly on my chest looking me straight in the eye. We both fell asleep on the couch after our reunion. Lucy laid across my neck daring me to leave as we both fell deep asleep.

I love the time we share together. I love how affectionate she is and how eager she is to be in my presence. My favorite part of the day is when we both relax at the end of the night with her cuddled on my lap.

Jason told me the other night that Lucy will never forget that I saved her, which is why she always has to be close by. That comment almost sparked a stream of tears. I think we saved each other. She filled a gap I didn’t know existed.

Although I do not know her history, according to the vet, she will turn a year old on Jan. 21.

I will leave you with this . . . an excerpt from the book I began writing late last year . . .


Jocelyn woke to Oliver’s worried voice asking for her help one brisk Monday morning.

After slowly yawning off the grogginess, she reluctantly climbed out of bed and put on a sweatshirt before heading downstairs to meet Oliver  on the  front porch.

She had no idea the life of two was going to change that day.


“Our Christmas comes from our heart”

“Our Christmas comes from our heart”

Organization makes holiday a little brighter for Cape family

Published in Cape Coral Daily Breeze Dec. 18, 2014 issue

A Cape Coral family received a little holiday cheer Wednesday night from the Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund to help them through some financial hardships.

“With all of our warriors that are members, board members, volunteers and everybody that donates and makes Wounded Warrior Anglers possible, I want them to know that they are part of helping somebody come through the month of December financially,” Wounded Warrior Anglers Vice President Judy Souders said. “I want them to know they are a part of that. All of us coming together over the last three years have made this possible. Everybody coming together and doing a little here and a little bit there has all added up.”

The Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund became a part of the organization on Oct. 14. The fund was created to provide appropriate relief to eligible veterans or disabled veterans who experience a qualifying event or emergency.

Melissa and Eddie Breese were the first to benefit from the newly established fund on Wednesday, Oct. 22, because of hardship they were experiencing. After the donation was made, a community member reached out to Wounded Warrior Anglers and donated gas gift cards and food gift cards to further assist the family with their needs.

Since that donation, Eddie’s condition has become worse. Now with only one income, a part-time income, trying to make ends meet to pay the bills and put food on the table, has become extremely difficult.

To help alleviate some of that financial burden the family is experiencing, the Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund donated $1,200 to the Breese family again on Wednesday.

Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund Committee Member Kevin Purdy, Melissa Breese, Eddie Breese, Gracie, the Breese’s granddaughter, and Wounded Warrior Anglers Vice President Judy Souders.

Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund Committee Member Kevin Purdy, Melissa Breese, Eddie Breese, Gracie, the Breese’s granddaughter, and Wounded Warrior Anglers Vice President Judy Souders.

“It shocked me,” Melissa said of the donation amount. “We have good people around us like Judy and all the Anglers.”

The donation will help the Breese family pay for their December monthly bills, as well as put food on the table.

“Without a question, there is an absolute blessing to be in a situation to help people like that,” Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund Committee Member Kevin Purdy said. “It touches you so deeply. You can’t put it into words.”

Eddie, a Fort Myers High School graduate, enlisted in the Marine Corps and served in Desert Storm from 1988 to 1992. After returning from the service he started working on roofs, while owning his own business at one time.

Unfortunately on Sept. 11, Eddie took a bad fall, falling 25 feet through a skylight to the concrete. That fall broke his back, mangled his right arm, broke his ribs and gave him severe head trauma.

After Lee Memorial Health System released him after the accident, Melissa took her husband to the VA clinic in Cape Coral. He then was taken to Bay Pines VA Healthcare System.

While he was at Bay Pines he spent time going to a speech pathologist, physical therapist and occupational therapist.

Eddie returned home on Friday, Oct. 17, after spending two months in the hospital.

Melissa said since October he has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and began having focal seizures because of the head trauma.

“Some days he may have one or two,” she said Wednesday night. “The day before yesterday he had six.”

Melissa said when he has a seizure it is as if Eddie is staring right through her with no response.

“He looks dead,” she said.

Limited funds have made it hard for Melissa to drive Eddie to Tampa to see the doctor.

With working part-time and being a full-time caregiver, Melissa said they had to send their 1-year-old son, Keygan, to West Virginia to stay with family.

Although the family is struggling, Melissa remains positive.

“At least I have him at the end of the day and God saved him,” she said. “We have him and that’s what is important.”

Melissa said Eddie has always been her best friend.

“It’s always been Eddie and I,” she said, adding that they used to play co-ed softball and volleyball together. “That is what saved his life. If his body was not in the shape he was in, he would have never survived that. He is fighting every day.”

Souders said being able to help the Breese family is what Christmas is all about.

“That is a big part of our Christmas because our Christmas comes from our heart,” she said.

Community members, who would like to continue the spirit of Christmas and help the Breese family, can contact Souders at (423) 620-9104. Any gift donated to the Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund is tax deductible.