Gary’s Grove Hosted Benefit For Bartender’s Medical Expenses
by James Coulter
Ashley Hobson has been friends with JoAnne “Jojo” Simmons for five years. Jojo works as a bartender at Gary’s Grove in Winter Haven, and Ashley often visits her there.
“She is like the sister I never had,” Ashley said. “She is my heart. She is the reason we all giggle on bad days and laugh, and she is here for everybody.”
When Jojo suffered a brain aneurysm last month, Ashley and the others wanted to support her however they could. For that reason, her workplace hosted a benefit in her honor on Saturday.
The turnout for the benefit far exceeded Ashley’s expectations. Overall, she loved how so many people were willing to turn up to show their support and offer their donations to a beloved bartender.
“She would be here for all of us, and we want to be there for her and make sure she is taken care of,” Ashley said.
Nearly 100 people gathered together at Gary’s Grove to offer their support to JoJo during the bartender benefit on Saturday.
Kick Yo Butt BBQ, a local award-winning barbecue team, donated platters of barbecue pulled pork and chicken with baked beans, potato salad, and a roll to sell in exchange for donations.
Proceeds were also raised through raffles sold for various prizes, including “chests of cheer”, gift baskets, fishing gear, t-shirts, hats, and other memorabilia.
All proceeds from the event would help cover JoJo’s medical and living expenses upon leaving the hospital. After suffering from a brain aneurysm in December, she was required to undergo three surgeries in less than a week.
“We can’t wait to have her home,” said Nicole Brown, another friend of JoJo’s who organized the benefit. “The turnout has been amazing. We are so ecstatic that so many people love our girl and are willing to come out to show their support and love.”
Brown was thoroughly pleased by the turnout that evening. She knew that so many people, bar patrons and local alike, loved her best friends, and their participation that evening proved that they were willing to give anything to help her through her time of need.
“No donation is too small, and we will make sure that it gets to her,” Brown said. “We want to make sure that she knows how much she is loved and give back to her. We love the turnout. We are so excited about how many people came out.”