Villagers for Veterans is bringing a special performer to Florida’s Friendliest Hometown – one who strives to keep the memories of “The King of Rock and Roll” alive forever.
Dwight Icenhower, who has made a full-time career as Elvis Presley impersonator, will perform his “Ultimate Tribute to The King” show alongside his Blue Suede Band at the Savannah Center at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 18. His appearance is a fundraiser being put on by the group to raise money for a smart home that’s being built for disabled Army veteran Sgt. Pam Kelly on the Historic Side of The Villages.
“Dwight is one of the top Elvis tribute artists in the world,” said Marie Bogdonoff, president of Villagers for Veterans. “We are so excited to bring him here.”
Icenhower, who was born four years after Presley died and raised in Pomeroy, Ohio, started his career as an Elvis impersonator at the age of 16 by singing karaoke at a local fair. From there he spent years studying and perfecting his Elvis moves, from the 1950s-era Presley through the 1970s.
Today, Icenhower travels the world putting on shows, from the United States to England to Brazil to the Netherlands to Norway to Spain to Mexico and Japan. During those many shows, he’s shared the stage with the likes of DJ Montana, The Jordanaires, The Sweet Inspirations, Cynthia Pepper, Julie Parrish, Charlie Hodge, Dook Bardwell, Eddie Miles and Joe Esposito.
“We’ve already sold about half of the tickets,” Bogdonoff said. “It’s going to be a fabulous show.”
Villagers for Veterans has worked tirelessly over the past couple of years to raise money to build the special house for Kelly, a 17-year Army veteran who was injured during a 2002 training accident while preparing to deploy to Iraq. Kelly’s spine was crushed when a cable snapped during a sling load operation. As a result of her injuries, the Army medic, who lives alone in the Tampa area, was permanently paralyzed and has very limited use of one arm.
Villagers for Veterans raised $10,000 in 2015 to purchase a service dog named Bonsai for Kelly – an animal she quickly bonded with. And in June, Kelly participated in a flightless Honor Flight with Villagers for Veterans volunteer Marguerite Desbrow, of the Village of Duval, serving as her guardian.
The fundraising campaign to raise money for Kelly’s new, open-floor-plan home kicked off in February 2018. The group held a groundbreaking ceremony in January on the Teakwood Lane lot where the house is being built in the Village of Orange Blossom Gardens. And the effort to fund the home has been going strong for 19 months – with the end goal now in sight.
“We are about 90 percent of the way there,” Bogdonoff said, adding that along with the money that’s been raised the group also has received other kinds of donations and discounts on materials.
Those interested in helping Villagers for Veterans reach their goal to finish Kelly’s home can purchase tickets to Icenhower’s show at The Villages Box offices or online at thevillagesentertainment.com. Tickets are $25 for Villages residents and $50 for the general public.