■ BY SUE ERWIN
Mike Wheddle plays rhythm guitar and is the lead vocalist for the Boca Bande, a group that’s been performing at restaurants and New Year’s Eve bashes on the island for more than 20 years.
But members of this community won’t get the chance to hear Mike sing this New Year’s Eve.
Mike is battling a type of aggressive cancer, and the band will not be performing this year at any holiday parties.
There is a GoFundMe account established to help raise money to cover the cost of treatments, since Mike has no insurance. He is currently on the waiting list at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa.
The Boca Bande is an original Boca Grande-based rock/dance band that has been transforming special occasions into true celebrations for audiences throughout the South Florida area for the last ten years. The performers possess a wide range of vocal and musical styles, including rock, Motown, disco, 80s, 90s and today’s top hits – and Mike could really get the party started once he started belting out the tunes.
“We used to play at the old Beach Club years ago,” Mike said. “They would have a big steak roast every year. The locals, all the employees and the guests would all get together at the beach. It didn’t matter who you were or where you came from; everybody had a good time together. Everyone was always welcome,” he said.
Mike posted this comment on his GoFundMe page: “Thank you to all my dear friends and supporters. This is an extremely humbling experience for me. I foolishly thought I was indestructible. I am not. I will fight this, and I will beat it. I want to see the people dance again. To all my unsung advocates behind the scenes, making things happen, I want you to know that I feel the love and concern in your actions.”
To make a donation, go to GoFundMe.com and search for “The Man of the Boca Bande.” You will find a short video on the page that Mike put together explaining his current medical situation.
The Boca Grande community is also working on putting together some local fundraising efforts to help Mike.
“He’s a great guy, and we’re going to do our best to help him,” said Bob Melvin. “We’re working with the doctors at the clinic to see that the paperwork goes through to Moffitt, so Mike can get the treatment he needs as quickly as possible.”
If you would like to help keep the New Year’s Eve bash in Boca Grande alive, please contact the Boca Beacon office, and we will put you in contact with those who are currently trying to bring the party back.
Keep reading the Boca Beacon for updates on future events.