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Fund-raisers to help firefighter

By Staff | Mar 3, 2009

A Cape Coral firefighter is battling back from a debilitating injury with some much needed financial help from his former co-workers.
Robert Souza, 52, was ejected from his Ford truck on November 20, suffering a “traumatic brain injury” that left him in a coma and then a vegetative state.
According to his ex-wife Lisa, Souza has fought his way back from that terrible state, and is now working on trying to recapture some essential motor skills at a special facility in Wauchula.
The facility — the Florida Institute for Neurological Rehabilitation — costs $24,000 a month, a daunting figure for Souza and his family.
So, firefighters from the Cape and around the county have banded together to try and provide some monetary lifelines by throwing several fund-raisers throughout March.
Having already paid the first month, the firefighters are trying to raise funds for the remainder of Souza’s three-month stay.
“The firefighters should really be commended for what they’ve done,” Lisa said. “They all came to his help. It’s like a big brotherhood, you wouldn’t believe how tight they are. I don’t know where he’d be right now without their help.”
Lisa added that Souza’s therapy consists heavily of getting him on “a schedule,” one that hopes to retrain him to do things most take for granted — brushing his teeth, feeding himself, speech therapy and short-term memory are all part of the re-education.
“He still doesn’t know who people are all the time … it comes and goes,” Lisa said.
Two events kick off the fund-raising efforts this weekend. The first, on Friday, is a night of professional wrestling featuring ring legend Greg “The Hammer” Valentine at Cape Coral High School.
The second event, Saturday at Germain Arena, is a hockey game between the Southwest Florida Firefighters and Atlanta Fire Department. Beginning at 4:30 p.m., the $15 ticket price includes an Everblades game immediately following the match.
As a friend and former co-worker of Souza, retired Cape firefighter Steve Boyd said the two firefighters worked together outside of the firehouse, as Boyd worked for Souza’s irrigation business.
“I actually worked under him pretty much every day,” he said.
A third event follows on March 22 at Fort Myers High School, as a powder puff football game between women firefighters from around the region and female Fort Myers police officers square off on the grid iron to help out Souza’s cause.
Boyd added that the wrestlers are donating their time Friday to put on the unique event.
“Most of these guys are donating their time, just getting gas money,” he said. “They got a bunch of guys that just jumped in and put it together.”
Tickets for the wrestling event are $12, and $6 for children under 12. Doors open at 6 p.m. The first match starts at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets for the hockey game can be purchased at the box office at Germain Arena. The Everblades game to follow the match starts at 7:30 p.m.
For information on all events, contact Steve Boyd at 707-3203.