A Shared Memory At The Circus



A Sarasota family dealing with a difficult medical diagnosis this week got a reprieve from the burdens of their life through a night at the circus courtesy an anonymous donor. Army veteran Larry Perkins, who is suffering from Stage 4 liver cancer, has in the past few months benefitted from veteran services provided through Goodwill Manasota, but an enchanting family evening at a performance of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus came after Goodwill officials connected him with a donor in search of a family to help this Christmas.

“We owe a lot to this donor,” Perkins said. “I wish we knew who she was so we could thank her in person. You don’t know what this means to us, getting to enjoy something as a family and not worry about money or time for just a little while. None of us had ever seen the circus, so we were very excited. We are so thankful to Goodwill for helping us receive this experience.”

C.J. Bannister, director of the Veterans Services Program at Goodwill Manasota, said she only met Perkins a few days before the donor reached out to the organization. Following Perkins’ terminal diagnosis, Goodwill has helped him with housing assistance and medical claims. The donor, though, wanted to give emotional assistance. Bannister said the donor is also a veteran, and lost her 6-year-old to cancer a decade ago. Since then, she has worked with philanthropic groups to help families in honor of her lost child, according to Bannister. Perkins, his wife Charla and his 10-year-old daughter Kendra were treated on Tuesday to tickets to a circus performance in Tampa, parking passes and a $100 gift card to use at the show.

“When she signed the card to give to the family, she signed it in memory of her son,” Bannister said. “The show was on the day of her son’s birthday.” The donor told Goodwill her last great memories with her own son were at the circus, and she wanted the Perkins to have similar thoughts to cherish. Bannister said the donor had not worked with Goodwill before, but the organization was enthusiastic to connect the donor and family. And the chance to give a memory of the circus to Larry and Kendra that was similar to that of the donor and her own son was an opportunity worth siezing.

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