Sarasota music festival raises money to grant wishes for military veterans – News – Sarasota Herald-Tribune
The Denis V. Cooper Foundation collaborated with Stottlemyer’s Smokehouse to raise money to grant wishes for military veterans.
SARASOTA COUNTY — After Denis Cooper became ill, he told his daughter and son they would go fishing together when he got better.
But Cooper, a military veteran, was misdiagnosed at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in St. Petersberg and admitted to hospice, where he later died, before his wish could be fulfilled. His son, local radio host Maverick Johnson, is carrying on his memory by fulfilling the wishes of other veterans.
Since forming the Denis V. Cooper Foundation with four friends in 2014, Johnson says the group has fulfilled at least 20 wishes for “heroes.”
“There are a lot of military in our area and they fall through the cracks the way the system is set up,” Johnson said. “Our idea is to plug in those areas and help where we could.”
Johnson credited his friends with making his dream to help vets a reality and the organization’s supporters, which include sponsors Col. John Suputo and Budweiser, for their generosity.
“The last couple of wishes we have done, we put a roof on a World War II hero’s house in Sarasota, and another World War II hero has been fighting with the VA over dental benefits. We were able to take care of all his dental work, and he has teeth for the first time in several years now.”
Dean Lambert, the general manager at Stottlemyer’s Smokehouse, said Saturday’s music festival was the perfect collaboration for the eatery located on Fruitville Road east of Interstate 75 and the Denis V. Cooper Foundation. He said the restaurant tapped some of its top musical acts to perform, which included: Rye Road, Under8ted, Mumbo Jump, Kara & Kaliedogroove, Mike Kach Group, Lost Boys, Rebel Heart, Chillbillies, Twinkle, Ship of Fools, and Kettle of Fish.
“The biggest reason was that I love music, for one, and I was trying to figure out a good way to get a bunch of bands together,” Lambert said.
The restaurant accepted donations for the foundation at the door. A raffle featured musical items signed by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and others, and an electric guitar signed by Dickie Betts.
Johnson said his group holds multiple fundraisers throughout the year, but its primary fundraiser is the Red, White and Brew event held June 8 at Gold Coast Distributing on June 8. It’s $100 a ticket that offers a variety of unique beers paired with food from Anna Maria Oyster Bar, Basil’s of Bradenton, Pano’s Grill, Nancy’s Bar-B-Q and Morton’s Gourmet Market.
There will be several military speakers and a silent and live auction.
“It’s about this community coming together to help those that don’t ask for help, but need the help,” Johnson said.