A true miracle occurred Friday night at the Sun City Center Chamber of Commerce. In less than six hours over $6,300 was donated in checks and cash to a medical needs trust for local business woman Linda Cardamone, owner of the “Three Legged Poodle” pet supply store (www.the3leggedpoodle.com). There are still donations coming in that have not yet been included in that amount.
In early February Linda’s staff, friends and loyal customers learned that without health insurance it would be financially impossible for her to receive medical tests needed to diagnose her illness. Beginning with store employee Bonnie Flora, contribution containers were quickly distributed to area businesses in Sun City Center, Wimauma and Ruskin.
Linda has spent her life caring for animals and working with local rescue organizations. She is well-known in the area for working tirelessly to find help for any animal and a good forever home. She opened her store in Sun City Center in 2003 to fill what she saw as a void in the community.
Upon learning of her illness, loyal customers and friends brainstormed what could be done instantly to help with those expenses — and in 16 days a fundraiser had been organized, promoted and held. Sharon Roberts, owner of “All About Paws Pet Services” contacted Dana Dittmar, Executive Director of the Sun City Center Chamber, to book the chamber’s Community Room for the event. Both Dittmar and chamber staff member Kristy Mahoney were extremely helpful in allowing the use of the facility on such short notice.
Robin Roberts, an Independent Consultant with ARBONNE International, signed on to pull the event together by coordinating donations, supplies, volunteers, press and online notices.
Store employees sent emails to customers, vendors, friends and local business owners to spread the word and asked for donations — with the hope of having a silent auction, raffles, homemade baked treats, finger foods, beverages, and music for the event.
Colorful flyers were produced and distributed to area businesses. Animal Rescue organizations like Feline Folks, C.A.R.E. and Elmira’s Wildlife Sanctuary were contacted to promote and help with the event. Within days donated items began rolling into the store or were picked up and held in family garages awaiting the big event. Doggie Doos Pet Grooming Salon in Ruskin, Bark Busters and Big Bend Animal Hospital all donated valuable gift certificates. The Skin Cancer Center even gave their shopping bags for people to carry home their goodies.
The Fromm Family Pet Food Company donated over $2,000 in dog food bags to be used for the event. A handful of ladies from Kings Point and Sun City Center baked cakes, cookies and brownies to be sold to also raise funds. People called opening their hearts, wallets and donated cherished artwork, handmade jewelry, and gift cards for local restaurants.
Donations came from Dutch ReTreat Spa, Sun City Center Flowers & Gifts, SCC Golf Carts, Taco Bell, Bogg’s Jewelry, American Printing and Scentsy Representative Ruth Foss. Debbie Caneen from Sun Towers Retirement Community, and Connie Lesko from Freedom Plaza. Mike Lesko (United Yacht Sales) grilled scrumptious hot dogs and sausages to sell with chips and sodas. Arthur DeAngelis (Design One Garage Doors) donated cases of water, soda and beer. Kay Dyer (Dyer Solutions) brought in wine, sub sandwiches and appetizers.
While working with store customers Andrea Peterson always mentioned the upcoming fundraiser. One customer who delivers plants from local nurseries to area stores offered to help. On Thursday afternoon he delivered over 300 live potted plants from several local growers in Riverview for the fundraiser.
D.J. Gary Larkin supplied background music all night between live musical sets from about 20 members of the Front Porch Pickers.
“This event would not have been possible without the help of so many critter loving people jumping in to help us. Linda really is loved and respected for what all she does for us and our animals. This was our way of giving back to her! The generosity of this community is amazing!,” said Robin Roberts.
An account has been set up at Cadence Bank, 4842 Sun City Center Blvd where donations may be made direct to the “Linda Cardamone Medical Needs Trust.”