Tuesday night at Lake Miona Recreation Center in The Villages, the whole gang gathered to lend a hand to Villagers for Veterans. The group had a fundraiser to help Sgt. Pam Kelly, who was injured while training for deployment to Iraq. As result, she lost the use of both legs and her right arm. Previously, the group raised money to help Pam get a service dog.
Now, Villagers for Veterans wants to build a house or modify an existing house in The Villages so Pam can be more independent and do activities on her own. For the fundraiser, Marie Bogdonoff, founder of the group, decided to get a photo of Pam in front of a typical house in The Villages. The photo was then made into a large jigsaw puzzle. Each person was asked to buy a puzzle piece for $50. Though the puzzle is large, the individual pieces, which are magnetic, are small. Marie hopes this will increase the amount of money the group can raise.
Marie is not shy about helping veterans. She began the organization because she wanted to provide whatever these men and women who served so bravely need to help in healing.
Pam says she had a lot of trouble adjusting to life after her accident. “I had planned to be in the army for life,” she says. “I didn’t know what to do to be a civilian. I felt like I had lost my soul.”
According to her story posted on the Villagers for Veterans website, she became active in adaptive sports and found renewed joy. She excelled in bicycling, swimming, and archery. Unfortunately, this ended when she had to have surgery on her good arm, which left her with painful nerve damage and means more surgeries in the future.
Her small home in Tampa is not equipped for Pam’s wheelchair and the room she needs to move about independently. Villagers for Veterans wants to help her find a home in The Villages, possibly on the historic side, so she can be more independent and get out to enjoy activities in the town square.
If you’d like to donate, go to their website www.villagersforveterans.org and follow the instructions. The fourth annual Orchid Gala, the group’s biggest fundraising event, is April 28, 6-9pm, at Savannah Center in The Villages. Tickets are also available on the website.