VERO BEACH – A couple hundred jailbirds flocked to Jack Baker’s Lobster Shanty in Vero Beach, reporting to their cells after having been arrested.
The only way for them to bust out of the slammer was to raise at least $3,200 in “bail” – donations to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Such arrestees included Vero Beach Mayor Jay Kramer, Indian River Shores Town Manager Richard Jefferson, TV personality Marcia Littlejohn, and Mayor of the Airwaves Rhett Palmer, along with a host of business owners, their employees they pressed into service, and others who only knew they had been arrested.
“I’m trying to figure out who put me in here,” said local real estate agent R.J. MacMillan, of MacMillan Real Estate.
The first-timer to the MDA Lock-Up said his bail-raising efforts were going slowly but predicted he’d do just about as well – if not better – than his cellmates, attorney Roger LaJoie and Clerk of the Court candidate Jeff Smith, with whom he was sharing a table.
“They told me to bring my Rolodex,” Smith said, spinning through the entries trying to determine who to call next.
“I need a bail reduction hearing,” joked LaJoie.
One captive who didn’t appear to be having any problems raising money for her bail was Lisa Corson, owner of Vero Beach Canine Country Club.
One person, who wished to remain anonymous, pledged $1,000 to Corson’s bail.
“I was jumping up and down for joy,” Corson said while taking a quick break from calling her clients.
She said the most challenging part had been keeping track of the amount of donations coming in, though she was pretty sure she was close to or over the $3,200 goal.
“I’m very excited to do it,” Corson said of participating in the MDA Lock-Up. “Oh I’ll cry if I can send kids to camp.”
Brandy Miller, director of business development for the MDA’s Treasure Coast and Palm Beaches region, said they set the goal of $3,200 per participant because that amount could send four children with muscular dystrophy to summer camps.
After the event, Miller reported the event raised $75,641 for the MDA.
Along with sending kids to camps, a $30 donation would cover the cost of a flu shot, $74 would cover one minute of research, $100 would cover one support group session, and $150 would cover one occupational/speech therapy visit.
“It’s been very successful,” Miller said of the event. The participants are “doing a great job.”
“We’re very thankful to the Lobster Shanty,” she added.
The MDA does not receive government funding, according to Miller, which means all the funds the organization needs to do the work it does must come from contributions out in the community.
The MDA provides support groups, clinic visits, medical equipment, summer camps, and assists in research, to name a few services.
“We’re working hard to find a cure,” Miller said, adding that the organization has helped fund research that has led to breakthroughs but no cure just yet.
Joshua Strobel, general manager at the Lobster Shanty, said they “jumped right on that” when Miller approached them to host the MDA Lock-Up. This was the second time for the restaurant.
“The turnout has been very nice,” he said. “We’re just happy to do something like this.”
He added that the restaurant’s chef, Chef Francois Poirier, outdid himself with the buffet lunch.
“If he didn’t do it,” Strobel said, “it wouldn’t have happened.”
Staff from Dr. Deborah Demarta’s Vero Beach practice were pressed into service – though none knew who had arrested them. Dr. Demarta said she didn’t have her employees arrested and added she thinks one of them arrested her.
Heidi Phillips, from the practice, said this was her second time participating in the MDA Lock-Up and had a little advice for her boss, a first-timer to the event.
“We just tell her to pick up her phone and start calling,” Phillips said.
For more information about the Muscular Dystrophy Association, visit www.MDA.org.