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Homeless veteran that passed away to be honored with sculpture

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 8:00 AM EDT
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BRADENTON, Fla. (WWSB) - A sculpture honoring a late local hero is in the works in Bradenton. Manny Fluker, a Vietnam Army veteran, died back in May and he was laid to rest at the Sarasota National Cemetery on Oct. 7.

His family, friends, and fellow veterans from all over the Suncoast were there to say their last goodbyes with a flag ceremony and funeral procession. Now, the Bradenton community is looking to use his story to raise awareness on homelessness.

“He was everyone’s grandfather in this community,” said Laura Licoski, founder of Facing Homelessness Bradenton.

It’s been five months since Flucker passed away, but his memory remains.

“He was very comfortable being on the street,” she said. “He loved the simplicity of the street and there’s nothing you could have convinced him otherwise.”

This Vietnam veteran had no real address for nearly 30 years, but during that time he touched many people’s hearts. That’s why Licoski and others in the Brandenton community wants to build a bench with a sculpture of him.

“This bench is going to be a symbol for our community, way more than just Manny. This started as a good subject of homelessness,” she said.

“It will symbolize him, but it would also be that person that would be able to help somebody,” said Bradenton Mayor Gene Brown.

They hope to raise about $52,000, and any remaining funds will be donated to Turning Points.

As far as where the bench will go, the plan for now is to either place it outside the Manatee County Courthouse or in downtown Bradenton. “It will evolve as we raise the money,” said Brown.

A GoFundMe page is in the works. You can get the latest updates by clicking here.

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