RONAN - The big Tomy Parker benefit planned here next weekend just added something pretty special: Tomy Parker himself.
The Marine from Ronan who lost both his legs in an explosion in Afghanistan in December will be coming home for the first time since he was severely injured, for a week-long visit and to attend portions of the event.
Tim Corbett, longtime partner of Parker's mother, Lisa Jennison, said Thursday that doctors at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego will allow Parker to return for the benefit at the Ronan Community Center scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 19.
He and Jennison will leave California on an Allegiant Airlines flight out of Los Angeles and bound for Missoula on Feb. 16, and return on Feb. 23.
Parker has long hoped he could get home for the event, but just last week Corbett had said it sounded like his medical team might not sign off on the trip.
"I'm telling people the chances are slim and none," Corbett had said just over a week ago. "I don't want to get anyone's hopes up."
However, a clearly tickled Corbett said Jennison was allowed to book the airline tickets Thursday.
The benefit will contribute to a fund set up to help Parker's family with expenses encountered since the 2008 Ronan High School graduate stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan's Helmand Province on Dec. 11.
The 20-pound bomb robbed him of his legs - his left was amputated at the hip and his right above the knee - plus all four fingers on his left hand.
Parker spent seven weeks undergoing multiple surgeries at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., before being transferred to San Diego last week to continue his rehabilitation.
Organized by Tracy Morigeau Frank with the help of many townspeople, the Feb. 19 benefit will be an all-day-and-into-the night affair.
A spaghetti feed will run from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., where volunteers are prepared to serve up to 1,000. A $5 donation is requested for the food, and folks can also participate in a silent auction that will feature everything from artwork to a like-new church organ, plus memorabilia autographed by former Montana Grizzly football players who went on to the NFL.
At 7 p.m. a live auction starts, followed by a concert by Rob Quist and Great Northern and sponsored by Don Aadsen Ford.
The concert will be a pass-the-hat affair, and the auction will include aerial tours of Glacier National Park and a semi-load - 18 cords worth - of firewood.
The benefit, according to Frank, will pay tribute to all veterans, and anyone who wants to place a picture of a vet on an honor wall at the event should send it and the appropriate information, to the Veteran Warrior Society, P.O. Box 682, Ronan, MT 59864.
Anyone wishing to donate items for the auctions should contact Frank at 261-9489.
Reporter Vince Devlin can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.