Two days after he turned 19 years old, Mikey Vaughan lost 100 percent of his vision. Already blind in one eye after an athletic accident in his youth, the retina detached in the Florida State University freshman’s “good” eye in early September. He withdrew from classes and returned to Islamorada, his home. He has already had one surgery to correct the hereditary condition and needs one, possibly two, more.
“This is it. This is his last chance at vision,” said David Feder, a friend of the family. “Now, Mikey needs the community’s help.”
Friends are organizing a huge fundraiser for this very amazing young man on Saturday, Oct. 12. Consider this: He graduated fifth in the 2013 class at Coral Shores High School. He maintained a 4.0-plus GPA. He was selected to represent Monroe County students in a search for a new schools superintendent. He was a Boy Scout, a soccer player, a baseball player, a fisherman, and a member of the high school marching band. He was the recipient of many academic awards, too numerous to list here.
But those achievements pale compared to what many community leaders know is his best asset — his heart. Scott Cockrell, manager of the Coral Shores Performing Arts Center, recounts an incident when Mikey and a friend assisted a special needs student with an impromptu, private rendition of “Over the Rainbow” — Mikey on the drums. Thomas “Wood” Campbell, owner of a local production company, praises his thoroughness when assembling sound and light equipment for shows with up to 2,000 listeners.
“… Mike has helped produce countless shows ranging from simple wedding/sound lighting to 2,000-guest concerts, and has always had the same attitude about making the show the best it could be whether playing music himself or making someone else’s performance better,” Campbell said.
Mikey logged 750 hours of community service during high school.
“I’ve known him since we moved here 13 years ago,” said Wayne Carter of Keys Kritters. “My son and he met in Kindergarten and have been friends ever since. I can tell you with complete sincerity that this is one of the best kids I’ve ever met.”
Both Carter and Feder said the Vaughan family — Mikey, Mike Sr. and Teresa — are super volunteers.
“They show up for everything. They always have,” Carter said. “And now we need to help the Vaughan family.”
Medical expenses, after insurance, are expected to amount to tens of thousands of dollars. So the Upper Keys community has come together to put on a huge fundraiser with live music, silent auction and raffle on Saturday, Oct. 12 from 2 to 8 p.m. at The Whistle Stop, MM 82. The prizes range from hotel stays to restaurant chits, art, fishing trips, dolphin swims, spa treatment, kayak tours, bottles of wine and much more. Organizers are seeking still more donations. They can be dropped off at Keys Kritters Pet Store (MM 100), Islamorada Chamber of Commerce (MM 87) or the Spring Loving store in the Whistle Stop shopping plaza (MM 82). Admission and raffle tickets are for sale at Keys Kritters. And, Keys Kritters will match monetary donations up to $1,000 that are dropped of, or mailed to, the business.
Besides the giveaways, the event promises top-notch musical entertainment, including Mikey’s friends and former band mates of The Aviators and Men of Leisure. In addition, local musicians Dave Feder, Sons of Beaches, Jimmy Hawkins, Micah, Scott Youngberg, Ray Jaworski and others will play at The Whistle Stop.
“We want to get Mikey fixed up in time to go back to school next semester,” Feder said.
For more information, call 305-394-5219 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Michael Vaughan benefit is on Saturday, Oct. 12 from 2 to 8 p.m. at the Whistle Stop shopping plaza, MM 82.6. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under. Fifty-fifty raffle tickets will sell for $1 each, 6 for $5, or 30 for $20. Organizers are still collecting items for the auction.