On July 24, 18-year-old Victor Voras, a teen who recently completed treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, was led down a hallway to a boat filled with prizes — just for him. How did City Electric Supply (CES) teams in South and Central Florida team up with Make-A-Wish South Florida to pull it off? Great question.
Every year, Regional Manager Mike Bertone’s region comes together for a fishing-related cause. Last year, they supported the CAST for Kids Foundation. This organization helps children with special needs, supports their families, and strengthens communities through fishing. They enjoyed helping so much that they wanted to do something similar this year.
“This year, with the national partnership between CES and Make-A-Wish®, we decided to find a local kid with a fishing-related wish and raise money for them,” explained Bertone.
And they found Victor — a Port Richey teen with a passion for fishing and a desire to own a fishing boat named Chemosabi as a tribute to completing his second round of chemo. After hearing about him, Bertone and Regional Manager Mark Mickley immediately started planning how much money would be raised to help grant his wish.
“Last year, we raised $3,000, and I was hoping to double that amount,” said Bertone.
But Bertone had no idea that support was about to flood in from vendors, customers, friends, the CES family, and even his own family. Together, they raised almost $17,000, which meant that even after purchasing the boat and filling it with prizes, there was money left over to go toward granting other wishes.
Generosity for a Great Cause
And it all started with Bertone planning his annual fishing tournament at Hawk’s Cay for his region. This year, around 80 people attended.
“We offered $1,200 for the biggest dolphin caught, but the winners insisted on donating it back to Make-A-Wish. When another contractor heard about their generosity, he matched their donation,” said Bertone.
And the next day, Bertone threw a raffle that pushed them over the top.
“We told the contractors, ‘Today is about you. We don’t need you to reach into your pockets anymore,’” said Bertone. “But then the first guy won and auctioned his prize back off. And then more people followed. They would come up, give money, and ask for their prizes to be auctioned off again. One contractor paid $5,000 for a cooler.”
One customer even came up to Bertone, handed him $500, and said, “I was a wish kid.”
According to Bertone, it was overwhelming in the best possible way. And it didn’t end there. Customers and vendors generously donated and the CES family worked hard with Bertone’s own family to raise money themselves.
“Seeing Victor’s face at the event gave me absolute chills!” said Bertone’s son, Brody Bertone. “When I found out he was walking in, my heart was racing. His reaction was one of the best feelings I’ve ever felt.”
“For as long as I can remember, fishing has always been a huge part of my life. I take any chance I can to be out on the water,” added Bertone’s son, Hayden Bertone. “Being able to give someone else the ability to do that is always a good thing. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.”
“Seeing my boys work this event from behind the scenes was amazing,” said Bertone’s wife, Cathy Bertone. “I’m grateful to CES and Make-A-Wish for providing this opportunity for me and my family.”
Bertone’s family put in a lot of work — and so did the community. Stranded at Sea created artwork for the boat and sent an additional bucket full of shirts, hats, and more for Victor. Captain Don from Hook The Future provided fishing poles, Bass Pro Shop donated safety gear and a $200 gift card, and Jim and Brian Miller, from Pes Solar, donated money.
Not Over Yet
Bertone and Mickley agree that it was a life-changing experience that they enjoyed working on together.
“Mike is so good at planning. I support him, but he’s the mastermind. He loves putting things like this together,” explained Mickley. “He’s like a duck. On the surface, he’s cool and calm. Underneath, his feet are kicking like crazy.”
And it sounds like that kicking is going to continue.
“We’re going to tie all of our events moving forward to Make-A-Wish, no matter how big or small the events are,” said Bertone. “We’ll raise money and put it into the pool for the next wish.”
“This is just the beginning,” added CES Cares Social Impact Manager Karen Gray. “We will continue to do our part and help provide wishes for kids with critical illnesses.”
And Make-A-Wish will be right there beside them.
“On behalf of everyone here at Make-A-Wish Southern Florida, we are incredibly grateful and extremely proud of our growing partnership with our friends at City Electric Supply. We are excited to continue to work together to help make more wishes like Victor’s come true. We can’t wait to hear all about his fishing adventures on his new boat,” said Make-A-Wish Southern Florida Associate Director of Philanthropy Daniela Malo.
Honored to Play a Part for Make-A-Wish
All of the time, work, and energy could not go to a greater cause or recipient. As Bertone showed Victor all of the donations made by CES and the community, he couldn’t help getting choked up.
“Victor is a super cool, humble kid,” said Bertone. “The best part of everything was seeing his face after getting the boat. His face lit up and everyone applauded. It was an incredible honor being a part of granting a wish like that. He was ready to go out on the boat as soon as he got it!”
We are impressed by the resilience of Victor and his family, the kindness of the community, and the hard work of Bertone, Mickley, and everyone involved. If you are interested in learning more about Make-A-Wish, visit Wish.org.
We also wanted to take a moment to appreciate the vendors that played an integral role in the granting of Victor’s wish. Thank you sincerely to every single person who helped Victor’s wish come true. Victor, we hope you know how many people are rooting for you, and we hope you have the time of your life on Chemosabi.
Thank You, Vendors!
Advanced Air and Heat
Florida Keys Electric
Gary Berg Electric
Go Local Electric
Marvin Bochner, Inc.
Metra Associates, Inc.
Power LB Electric
S and S Electric
TJ Bowles Electric
Pass & Seymour