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O'Brien's to Host World's Largest Happy Hour

The event will take place Friday, Oct. 21.

It's a chance to put Brandon on the map while raising funds for a good cause.

A group of Brandon residents have come together to host world's largest happy hour Friday, Oct. 21.

In the process, the organizers are hoping to raise funds for a Valrico single mother who suffered a brain injury that has left her disabled and unable to care for her two young daughters.

Last year, at the age of 34, Angela McClellan suddenly had a seizure that left her near death, said her sister, Laurie Ellis.

"At first, the doctors told us she wouldn't make it," recalled Ellis. "Then they said she would never talk or walk again."

McClellan, a nurse, was at a friend's house when the seizure occurred. The friend promptly gave her CPR. But the seizure stopped her heart and prevented the flow of oxygen to the brain. The result was a permanent brain injury known as anoxic.

Suddenly Ellis found herself the caretaker not only of her severely brain-damaged sister but also her sister's two preschool children.

"Despite the doctor's predictions, Angela now walks and talks but her recovery has been a frustrating roller coaster ride," Ellis said. "She keeps hitting plateaus despite physical and speech therapy. And we have a very short window to to try to retrain the brain."

To make matters worse, her sister had taken a leave of absence from her job as a nurse and had no insurance at the time of her seizure.

"We had to go through Medicaid, which doesn't pay for therapy," Ellis said. "I started to reach out to resources and found there's very little available for anoxic brain injuries."

When they learned of Ellis' problem, a group of friends -- Mary Boor, Pat Magruder, Jana Broder, Becky Jordan and Arlene Waldron -- came together to plan a fundraiser.

"Essentially Angie and her family need help in covering up to one full year of occupational and speech therapy sessions," said Magruder. "Approximately $28,000 needs to be raised to cover those sessions. Without sufficient ongoing therapy, Angie will not continue to make the progress needed to live independently and to care for her children."

"But we didn't want to do just the usual fundraiser," said Boor. "We wanted to do something that would get the entire community involved. We wanted to do something fun while bringing awareness to the issue of brain injuries."

Working with Sean Rice, owner of O'Brien's Irish Pub of Brandon, 701 W. Lumsden Road, Brandon, the group came up with the idea of hosting the world's largest happy hour in an event they're calling "Toast the Decades."

"We want to put Brandon on the map so on Friday, Oct. 21, we'll be trying to set a world's record for the most people at a happy hour between 3 and 11 p.m.," said Magruder.

In addition to members of the community, supporters from six countries will join the party via Skype.

The entry fee is $10 and will include a drink and discounted meal, courtesy of Rice.

"We figured that's an amount everyone can afford so everyone can participate," said Magruder.

The event will feature music from the 1920s to the 1960s, with a toast each hour, said Boor.

"We're encouraging people to dress up for the different decades," she said.

Even the kids are invited to this happy hour. From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., there will be free soda and pizza as well as a magician, games, face painting, a goody bag for each child and a bounce house.

The women have been selling commemorative coins for $10 that will be used as tickets to the event. Everyone purchasing a coin will be eligible to enter a raffle for a 45-inch flat-screen TV or a half-day fishing trip for three.

"I think it's going to be a lot of fun, and a big success," said Magruder.

"We hope to make this an annual event," added Boor, adding that the group has now formed the nonprofit Brain Injury Foundation of Brandon in the hopes of raising enough money to build a brain injury rehabilitation center in the community.

Tokens can be purchased at O'Brien's, USAmeriBank, 668 Oakfield Dr., Brandon, and at Valrico State Bank, 102 W. Robertson St., Brandon.

For more information, visit the Toast the Decades website.

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