MELBOURNE, Fla. - Retired Lieutenant Colonel Tim Thomas talks about his good friend Retired Master Sergeant Michael "Mike" Sonnenschein.
"Such a Godly man and such a fantastic person. You just don’t think of anything like that happening to an individual with those types of qualities and values," Thomas said.
Mike and his wife, Hope, have been missionaries in Haiti for the past five years representing Cavalry Chapel in Melbourne until three weeks ago.
The couple was attacked driving home from dinner.
"Mike and Hope were actually kind of ambushed by a man on a motorcycle there in Haiti. The gentlemen shot at the couple, hit Mike in the scapula. The bullet split into two pieces. One part went into his spinal column. The other piece went into his lung," Thomas said.
Mike was instantly paralyzed from the chest down. His injuries were so severe he had to be medically evacuated back to the United States. He’s now being treated for his spinal cord injury at the Sheperd Center in Atlanta. The problem is his insurance will not cover any of his medical expenses.
"Because Haiti is what they call a Category 4 country because of security and COVID, all of his injuries there are not covered by his insurance company," Thomas said.
Thomas and their friend, Donn Weaver, knew they needed to do something to help. Mike served three tours of duty as an Army Ranger in war zones. After retiring from the military, he helped start the JROTC program at Viera High School.
"What makes Mike special is his ability to relate to the students without intimidating them. He related to them and set an example of what patriotism, leadership, teamwork, everything," Weaver said.
Weaver and Thomas are organizing a rally at USSSA Space Coast Stadium to raise money to help their friend who's spent his life serving others.
That fundraiser and rally will be Tuesday, June 22, at 6 p.m.
Mike’s family and friends have also put together a GoFundMe page to help with his medical expense.