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Comedy Night to benefit Mike Neves Memorial Fund

February 1, 2018
Pine Island Eagle

A two-day comedy night fundraiser has been set at the Laugh In Comedy Cafe to raise money for the Mike Neves Memorial Fund.

The Comedy Night Fundraiser, featuring Bucky Lewis, will be held Sunday, Feb. 11, and Monday, Feb. 12. The doors will open at 6 p.m. and the show will begin at 7:30 p.m.

The charity helps support individuals struggling with addiction.

Article Photos

Michael Neves with a group who attended Serenity on the Mountain, a retreat in South Carolina.

"This is the first comedy night, hopefully one of many. I think everyone is going to enjoy the comedian coming in," Pat Neves said. "It's really snowballed. I've got people that are donating items to do a silent auction."

The special comedy night is being held in honor of Pat's son Michael, who passed away at the age of 35. Her son struggled with a drug addiction for almost 20 years, which she believes started when he was provided medication for his knee.

"We are committed," she said. "To lose such a big piece . . . it's just so heartbreaking. On the other end, to know that maybe someone else, maybe one of his friends, will be able to fulfill a dream . . ."

To help stay sober, Michael attended the Phoenix House, a treatment center in Ocala. After finishing the treatment, he decided to stay in Ocala - he loved the area.

"He loved the fellows he met up there and had a lot of support with the group up there," Pat said. "He was in the restaurant industry, something he was great at."

From conversations, she said he had a couple jobs in that area and seemed to be doing well.

Pat was able to see her son the day he passed away while she Facetimed him with her family.

"He looked healthy, smiling and was talking OK. I never realized that he had started using again," she said.

The use began again, Pat believes, because he was going through a difficult situation after a relationship ended.

"That put him into a tail spin and we never knew it," she said. "That night he overdosed."

Although that left Pat and her husband with a very deep loss, she wanted to turn her grief into something that could help others.

"I was so overwhelmed with the young people reaching out to me saying that they were totally shocked. Some of the guys still struggling . . . because of him they were committed to staying strong and staying straight," Pat said. "Looking at all of the pictures . . . the happiest ones that I had ever saw was him at the retreat."

A combination of seeing pictures of Michael at the Serenity on the Mountain retreat and the outpouring of love, led to creating the Mike Neves Memorial Fund and sponsoring five men every fall to attend a spiritual retreat at YMCA Camp Greenville, located in the heart of Blue Ridge Mountains of upper Greenville County, South Carolina.

Michael attended the retreat in 2016 in the spring and the fall with a group of 35 men, all from his AA group.

"We wanted to try to help someone else that is struggling and help another family, so that they do not have to go through this sadness," Pat said.

A GoFund Me account was started with the goal of $1,000 to establish the memorial fund.

"As the thousands kept coming in I was overwhelmed," Pat said, adding that at the time of her heart's darkest grief she saw an outpouring of love from people they knew.

The fund kept climbing as friends and family donated as little as $25 to as much as $1,000 in memory of Michael.

"We raised over $10,000 and that was just family and friends," Pat said.

That fund now has more than $11,300.

"When we saw how much money we raised, we are going to try to do this as much as we can. Every session I want five guys to go and keep going for as long as we can," Pat said of the retreat. "We want to help as many young men as we can."

The Neves family works with Michael's sponsor, Mike Lloyd, and counselor, Davieyon Hopson, to choose the five guys to attend the retreat.

"It's a small way of trying to give something back. Saying that my son's life did have meaning and hopefully it's going to save another family from going through a heartache that we have lived with for eight months now," Pat said. "We are pushing forward and putting all of our heart and soul (into the memorial fund)."

She said that everything is kept confidential, that she does not know the names of those they sponsor.

The fund has already sponsored five guys, Pat said, which included paying for the retreat and paying for the participants to get to South Carolina. They also wanted to provide funds for those five people to have breakfast on Michael in his memory.

"They all had this memorial card and had a breakfast on him and celebrated his life one night under the stars," Pat said.

In addition, she was provided with Michael's walking stick, which he carved during his last retreat, so he could walk with the guys in the mountains.

Pat said it's important to her to help others who are struggling with addictions.

"When they are straight they are the most wonderful people," she said. "They don't want to be like this."

Her experience of losing her son has connected her to other mothers who have also lost a child to an addiction.

"Almost every single one of these mothers I spoke with, it's the same thing. They've been put on drugs and it just seems to snowball. They don't want to be dependent on drugs," Pat said. "When he (Michael) was straight, he was the happiest person around. When he was using, it wasn't him."

Tickets to the two-day comedy night fundraiser at the Laugh In Comedy Cafe are $20 per person. They can be purchased at the venue at 8595 College Parkway, Suite 270, online, by calling (239) 479-LAFF, or by calling Mike at (239) 633-6321.



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