By Michelle Colesanti

MDAJailIn early October, members of the Brandon Community volunteered to go to jail. It was for a good cause – helping to raise money to help fight muscular dystrophy.


There were 55 local participants at the event held at Bahama Breeze in Westfield Brandon. By helping to raise money prior to their arrest and during their time in jail, they were paroled after one hour. Over $37,000 was raised locally.


Arrest warrants were served and the jailbirds were picked up and returned by limousine after their sentence was served. Bahama Breeze provided lunch for all of those jailed.


Participant Michelle Hernandez, a Community Liaison for Romero Insurance in Brandon said, “I was nominated by Dave Johnson, a co-worker, to ‘go to jail’ for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. I’m a sucker for kids, so it was really a no-brainer.”


Hernandez commented that it was great to see people donate that she never would have expected thanks to Facebook.


“The highlight of the entire experience, by far, was getting to meet Manny, the Florida State Goodwill Ambassador. He’s the bravest 5-year-old I’ve ever met, and definitely one of the coolest. It was a great experience and I can’t wait to do it again,” she said.


Patricia Tracy, Realtor at Brandon Realty, Inc and Marketing Director at the Osprey Observer, said, “I was nominated by a fellow realtor to be jailed and raise bail to help children and adults with Muscle disease in our community. While it was not real jail, I raised over $600, and want to thank all my supporters for their donations to bail me out as I could not rely on good behavior to get me out. Thanks to Bahama Breeze, who hosted us and served a delicious lunch. I was glad to be a part of helping to make a difference in the fight against muscle disease.”


Nearly 1,000 local area families are living with muscle disease. The local Muscular Dystrophy Association, which is based out of St. Petersburg, holds fundraising programs that provide services and programs to local families. The Lock Up program is just one of many that it uses to raise awareness of what MDA offers in the way of medical services and equipment, diagnostic testing, support groups and MDA Summer Camp.


To stay up to date on the local MDA events, visit For more information on MDA, visit


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Michelle Colesanti
Michelle has been with the Osprey Observer for almost nine years, and her current position is Assignment Editor. She resides in Bloomingdale with her husband Phil, two sons, Philip and Matthew, and Tigger the cat.