Community support poured from the Olde Fish House Marina Saturday afternoon as individuals attended the Benjamin Benefit Bash to show support to an island family that has given so much to them.
The event kicked off with a prayer from Pine Island Community Church Pastor Heidi Grueser, which was followed by the national anthem sung by Megan Coite.
"It's amazing to see the community come together," Grueser said. "That's why this place is so special."
Megan Coite sang the national anthem before the Benjamin Benefit Bash kicked off Saturday afternoon at the Olde Fish House Marina.
An account was set up at Capital Bank for the Benjamin family for those who wish to make a donation. The account is under Nancy and David Benjamin.
Raffles, a 50/50 drawing, a silent auction and a crafts area for the youngsters, along with hamburgers, hot dogs and fried mullet baskets were also a part of the festivities that took place Saturday afternoon.
Part of the raffle included a seafood raffle, which will be held until Friday, June 22. Lisa Dense with Olde Fish House said raffle tickets can be purchased at the seafood market until 8 p.m. on Friday.
The $5 raffle is for a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prize. The first place includes two pounds of grouper, two pounds of shrimp and 100 clams. Second place includes one pound of grouper, one pound of shrimp and 50 clams and third place winner will receive a half of a pound of grouper, one pound of shrimp and 25 clams.
The benefit was held due to a member of the Pine Island Community Church's idea to help raise money for the Benjamin family to offset some of their medical expenses since Benji's accident.
"The church went to so much trouble putting this together," Nancy Benjamin said. "I wouldn't live anywhere else, this community is amazing."
She also wanted to thank Lisa Dense with Olde Fish House for allowing the event to be held there, along with the Pine Island community for all of their support.
"People have been so incredibly kind to us," Nancy said.
On April 29, Benji and his daughter Morgan, were working on unclogging the dryer vent located on the roof of their home when Benji lost his footing from the extension ladder to his roof. He fell backwards onto the concrete below.
Nancy said Benji was moved to the Lee Memorial Rehabilitation wing due to progress that has taken place since his traumatic brain injury. She said he will be moved to either a nursing home or her home this week.
"Physically he is doing much better," Nancy said. "His brain function has a way to go."
She said they are very grateful that Benji is still with them, since they almost lost him seven weeks ago.
"I am glad he is here and he can actually get better," Morgan, Benji's daughter, said.
She also wanted to thank the community for its support.
There have been two statements that have kept Nancy going since the tragedy took place. She said "seize the day" and "focus on what matters" are what have kept her going through the hard times.
Kathy and Mike Taylors, friends of the family for nine years, attended the event because they wanted to show their support to the Benjamins. Kathy said they met at the Pine Island Community Church.
"We have known the Benjamins a long time and we wanted to support them," she said.
The couple said they wanted the Benjamins to know they are in their prayers.
Dan Cowels also attended the event with his wife Saturday because Nancy taught their son in kindergarten at Tropic Isles Elementary School. He said smiling that his son is now 20 years old, attending the University of South Florida studying communication.
All these years later, the Cowels have kept in touch with Nancy.
Nancy, Cowels said, got their son started and for that reason she has always had a special place in their hearts.
"Pine Island always comes together," he said, no matter what kind of hard times they are experiencing in their own life. "People reach in and do what they can."
The Benjamin family has lived on Pine Island for 22 years and Nancy has taught at Pine Island Elementary School for 10 years out of her 25-year teaching career.