By Anna-Marie Menhenott
ST. LUCIE COUNTY -- Sergeant Gary Morales touched many lives in St. Lucie County. Whether remembered for being the approachable, down-to-earth deputy many residents knew him as, or the family-man adored by those closest to him, he seemed to have a profound effect on the community.
In the wake of his senseless death, members of the community have rallied to help those who were left behind. One of those who have felt the call to action is Kevin Vanover, owner of Above Average Entertainment. He, with the help of Stevie Sticks, owner of Captain Jax Bar and Grill, has put together a benefit event to be held April 12.
"I lost my younger brother about four years ago, so the sense of loss is very real to me," Mr. Vanover said. "I just want the family to know we haven't forgotten about them. We, as a community, want to take care of them as much as possible."
This isn't Mr. Vanover's first experience with putting together a benefit in the wake of tragedy. After the school shootings at Sandy Hook, he opened a Facebook page for the victims that soon jumped to nearly 400,000 followers. This gave him the idea to put together a benefit that raised $5,000 for the families of the victims.
When Mr. Vanover heard about Sheriff Morales, he felt compelled to help.
"I immediately spoke with Stevie about doing something for Gary's family. We decided to wait a little while, because there have been so many benefits for the family. Each one helps and is very important, so we didn't want to interfere with any of the events. We spoke with his family members, and they agreed that this benefit would be a good idea," he said.
"We want to help not only his family, but Fort Pierce in general. The downtown area is starting to come back to life, and it seems there's a new beginning to it. We want to not only remember and celebrate Mr. Morales; we want to celebrate the life that is being brought back to downtown Fort Pierce."
The event will begin at 11 a.m. at Captain Jax, and will include lots of live music and entertainment. Al Papachubby will start the show at noon. Local favorites, The Humdingers, will take the stage at 1:30 p.m., followed by The Big Coque Band, Blue Cypress Bluegrass, Jackie Steil, The Cheyenne Band, Smokefog and rounding out the evening, Metalucious beginning at 9 p.m.
The benefit will also include raffles for items such as a flat screen TV, gift certificates and a pair of Western Wear boots. The silent auction will also have many spectacular items to bid on.
A kid's play area, provided by Chuck-N-Lori's Entertainment, will keep little ones busy while adults find many ways to help the Morales family.
There is a $5 charge at the door and a portion of each drink and food item purchased will be donated to the cause.
Captain Jax Bar and Grill is located at 658 N. Second St. in Fort Pierce.
For more information about the event, call Mr. Vanover at (772) 985-2083 or visit the Gary Morales Benefit page on Facebook.