By Tamas Mondovics

Local veterans with some support by the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) have once again joined forces in order to help one of its own with Florida’s beautiful beaches in mind. “We are hosting a charity golf tournament to raise funds to purchase a custom-built motorized beach wheelchair for a deserving paralyzed veteran,” said event organizer, Eric Wooten.

Wooten explained, while the Charity Golf Tourney is the first fundraiser of its kind for the cause, it is actually the second time that he and his friends were able to raise money to build a custom-made, motorized wheelchair. “My initial thought was that this would give these vets access to our beautiful beaches in a way that they would otherwise miss out on as regular chairs don’t handle well in the sand,” he said.

Wasting no time, Wooten got the “chair rolling” by reaching out to his friend from the Marine Corps boot camp, Chance Blaker, who today owns Beachin’ Wheelchairs in Alabama and builds chairs that are custom-designed and built to fit the size and weight of the veteran.

Blaker agreed, funds were raised and in no time a brand new chair was presented last year to Alan Earl, who himself works for the PVA and has helped to select this year’s deserving veteran; Tampa PVA employee, Stephen Bush, as the recipient of a custom-built chair. Bush has served as an Army, AH64 Apache mechanic for eight years.

“Stephen is thrilled as was Alan since they never had access to the beach until now,” Wooten said.  The chairs cost $4,000 and Wooten hopes to be able to raise the funds necessary through a generous support and participation of the 1st Annual Wheels for Vets Charity Golf Tournament, scheduled to be held on Sunday, November 10 at the Cypress Creek Golf Club, located at 1011 Cypress Village Blvd. in Ruskin.

Player fees are $75 each with maximum participation of 144 players and there is still room left to have a share. Sponsors are $500 and $1,000. There will also be a silent auction on the day of the event. Additional funds will be donated to the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) in Tampa. Wooten hopes to see a great turnout, especially since the date of the tourney is also the Marine Corp’s 238th birthday, to which Wooten had just one thing to say: “Oohrah!”

For more information, please contact Eric Wooten at 703-727-5884 or wooten


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