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A benefit for Ben and Benny benefit Sunday at The Cottage

November 13, 2014
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Helping to raise funds for a local man and his son, to have a very special and memorable Christmas, The Cottage is hosting a very special benefit for Ben Westerhouse this weekend Sunday, Nov. 16, starting at 11 a.m. and going all day long, featuring live music, raffles, prizes, food and drink specials and so much more. Planning has been going extraordinarily well, and organizers are hoping to make this one of the best benefits they've hosted to date.

"Ben is a local resident and single father to a wonderful, 7-year-old boy, Benny. In the past, you could always count on Ben to have a big beautiful smile on his face, until late 2012, when Ben was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). Since then, his health has rapidly declined. As of January 2014, he was given six months to live. And even with that, Ben's great spirit has helped him hang on just a few months beyond that date, but it appears even that borrowed time, has run out," said Roxanne Jakaitis, of The Cottage. "Since the birth of his son, he has been one of the most loving, hands-on fathers I have ever met. There isn't a single person who knows him that wouldn't tell you the same. Every weekend they could be seen walking, fishing or at the beach. No matter what they were doing or where they were, they were always together. They truly have a special bond, connected at the hip, truly a loving pair they are."

She tells us a little about the very special benefit taking place this weekend. "During our benefit for Ben to have a very special Christmas with his son, Benny, we will have live music performed by local musicians donating their time from Southwest Florida's best, including Steve Farst, A200, the New Vinyls, 3 Crooked Steps, the Bad Banditos, Keith Clanton and The Troublemakers so far, along with raffled items donated by local businesses, activities for the kids during the day and so much more. We have a lofty goal to cover all of Ben's medical expenses, striving to reach at least $35,000. We truly believe, as a community, we can reach this goal, and give Ben and Benny that one last Christmas they're praying for."

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Dealing with the longterm effects of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), doctors of longtime island local Ben Westerhouse have diagnosed him a short amount of time left on this earth. The Cottage and local community have come together to raise as much funds as they can, so Ben and his son, Benny, can spend a very special and memorial Christmas together, while also helping ease the extraordinary medical bills that pile up with the disease. Stop by The cottage any time Sunday, to join the cause.

Roxanne said, along so many other wonderful raffles and prizes, Lonne Letteri, owner of Bella Signs and Designs, recently donated a $2,000 boat wrap package, to be auctioned off on the day for Ben and Benny Westerhouse, set up as a silent auction, going to the highest bidder that day.

The live music and events scheduled for the day goes something like this:

11 a.m. to noon: Steve Farst

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Noon to 1 p.m.: Keith Clanton

1 p.m.: Raffle drawings

1:30 to 2:30 p.m.: A200

2 p.m.: Raffle drawings

3 to 4 p.m.:?3 Crooked Steps

4 p.m.: Raffle drawings and a 50/50

4:30 to 5:30 p.m.: Steve Farst

5:30 p.m.: Raffle drawings

6 to 7 p.m.: The Bad Banditos

7 p.m.: Raffle drawings and a 50/50

7:30 to 8:30 p.m.: The New Vinyls

8 p.m.: Silent auction winners announced

9 p.m. to 1 a.m.: The Troublemakers

"This benefit is a family affair, and we are hoping to have Ben and Benny there to spend a beautiful day at the beach and to see all the love and support that surrounds them," Roxanne said. "This is an absolutely heart-wrenching situation, but has moved and inspired so many to get up and help. As family, friends, and this community, we strongly believe we can make this dream come true. With your help, we can make this dream come true. We can ensure that this father and son can get every precious second possible together.

"Any assistance you can provide is truly appreciated. You can help by spreading the word and join us for the party! Myself, The Cottage and a group of amazing people are working to put together this fantastic benefit. Any donation and/or raffle prizes that you could donate big or small, anything will help immensely. Please feel free to give your donations to Callie Brown and/or the employees at The Cottage who are out and about working tirelessly to make this the most successful benefit yet!"

An online You Caring fund-raising account has been activated for this father-son team, as well, with a $1,000 goal with about $875 of that goal raised so far. If you can't make it to the benefit or would like to show your support in more than one way, please visit and search for "Ben Westerhouse." His page will be the first to show up, with the photo above.

For any further information on the benefit, or if you'd like to lend your support one way or another, whether it's making a special gift donation or volunteering during the event, contact Callie Brown, 239-771-3965, or email



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