Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Country Star's Gear Raises $3,000 for Girl; John Michael Montgomery's Signed Hat and Guitar Got Top Auction Bids

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Country Star's Gear Raises $3,000 for Girl; John Michael Montgomery's Signed Hat and Guitar Got Top Auction Bids

Article excerpt

Byline: DEBORAH CEARNAL, County Line staff writer

Deputy Dean Jones and his family weren't at the John Michael Montgomery concert during the recent Riverfront Festival, but thoughts of them were.

A guitar and hat autographed by John Michael Montgomery netted Jones $3,000 to help toward paying the medical bills of his youngest child, Carson, who is profoundly mentally handicapped.

With a guitar donated by Reynolds Park Yacht Center, Lillian Munsey, whose husband, Ronnie, was the entertainment chairman of the festival, asked Montgomery if he would sign it so it could be sold to raise funds for Carson. After the gig, the instrument was auctioned for $1,500. The buyer was Patty Wheeler, co-owner of the Clay Theatre on Walnut Street. Wheeler said she'd match that if she could get Montgomery to give her an autographed hat.

The singer took off his chapeau and signed it, and there came the additional $1,500. "He took it right off his head," Lillian Munsey said.

Raffles of three kid-size tractors donated by John Deere brought in $510.

Munsey said she has known Jones for at least 20 years -- as long as he has been in law enforcement in Clay County. She said she felt she needed to do something for this man who takes care of the community as well as his wife and six children. Jones works with residents to educate them on how proper lighting and landscaping can prevent crime to homes and neighborhoods.

Carson, 3, is the youngest child of Jones and his wife, Lesley, who teaches the visually impaired in Clay County Schools.

Lesley Jones, 40, said she had had no problems during pregnancy with her sixth child, but doctors induced labor when they discovered the baby's heart was beating too fast.

Shortly after her birth at Baptist Hospital in Jacksonville, Carson was rushed to Shands Hospital in Gainesville, where doctors got her heartbeat and breathing regulated.

But at 4 months, the Joneses realized their infant "was not growing, not doing things like she should." Carson had a condition called "failure to thrive," in which her body does not process foods correctly. At 3 years, Carson weighs about 22 pounds -- as much as a 4-month-old, Lesley Jones said. …

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