Community rallies together for injured veteran

Brevard County residents Hope and Mike Sonnenschein were attacked by a gunman on a motorcycle in Haiti. Mike sustained serious injuries to his lungs and spinal column.

Veterans’ advocates headed by The Good Deed Foundation, which is part of the Military Officers Association of America, Cape Canaveral Chapter, held a rally and fundraiser June 22 at USSSA Space Coast Stadium for a local injured veteran.

The event benefited Mike Sonnenschein and his wife, Hope, who were attacked May 17 by a gunman in Haiti. They were serving as Christian missionaries.

“He is one of the most unselfish people I have ever met in my life,” said retired Army Lt. Col. Tim Thomas, a friend of Sonnenschein and the senior Army JROTC instructor at Viera High School.

Mike Sonnenschein, a retired Army Ranger and one of the founders of the Viera High School Army JROTC program, suffered severe injuries to his lungs and spinal column. He was transferred to Shepherd Center and Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation in Atlanta. The rehabilitation process will be long and place an extreme financial burden on the family.

“We’re taking things one day at a time,” said Mike Sonnenschein in a video presented during the fundraiser. “I can still do things from a wheelchair. I’m just happy I have breath in my lungs and the use of my arms.”

In addition to Thomas, notable speakers at the fundraiser included Donn Weaver, president of the Brevard Veterans Council, Sheriff Wayne Ivey and retired Army Col. Danny McKnight.

“He’s working hard in rehab. It's pretty tough. The goal is that he regains some feeling and mobility, and we get Mike back the way he was,” Thomas said.

Nearly 200 people attended the fundraiser, which had to be moved under a covered walkway of the stadium due to lightning. That night, the community donated more than $7,000 to go toward Sonnenschein’s recovery.

A GoFundMe set up for Sonnenschein surpassed its goal of $65,000 by mid-June.

“Even in this tragic event that Mike and Hope are going through, he maintains the consistency and perseverance to not be distracted by his circumstances and understands that God is in control,” Thomas said.

Tax-deductible donations can be made by check, payable to MOAACC Good Deed Foundation, designated to the Ranger Mike Fund. It can be mailed to MOAACC Good Deed Foundation, P.O. Box 560023, Rockledge, FL. 32956-0023.

Donations can also be made by logging into moaacc.org and looking for the Good Deed Foundation donation button.