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Daddy Dolls make connection for boys at Christmas time

Among the Christmas gifts brothers Israel and Dwayne Newby received were a couple of surprises from Manatee Operation Troop Support.

Volunteer Linda Craig delivered two Daddy Dolls, especially made for Staff Sgt. Dwayne Newby and wife Vyent’s two boys. They’re in Palmetto visiting mom’s family, while dad is on his third tour of duty in Iraq.

“The dolls are awesome and the boys have really taken to them,” said Vyent, 26, a 2000 PHS grad and Army staff sergeant quartermaster of supply stationed in Hawaii.

“My 5-year-old (Israel) walked around with his all day. My 2-year-old (Dwayne) doesn’t refer to his as a doll, but as ‘Daddy’ and acts like he’s actually next to him.”

MOTS takes photos provided by the service personnel and has the dolls made at no cost to the families thanks to donations.

The dolls also come with recorded voice messages from the parent which are periodically updated by MOTS.

“Therapists working with military families say the dolls are a real source of comfort in these children’s time of need,” Craig said.

“It’s a blessing,” Vyent said.

n Ed Price, our revered elder statesman and retired state senator, former Sarasota High quarterback and B-17 pilot who flew 26 bombing missions over Europe during WWII, is 91 years young.

n And Dr. Willis Harris, former Sarasota Sailors infielder and now the dean of Manatee County’s medical professionals, is 95 years young.

n Mary Kate Nolan, Carly Fults and Casey Fults were just three of the “choirs of angels” in the Christmas Eve pageant at St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Lakewood Ranch. The pageant was directed by Christian Education director, Johanna Reilly, and featured more than 40 youngsters as Mary and Joseph, shepherds, kings and angels in a traditional Nativity scene telling the Christmas story accompanied by carols.

n That’s 31 years of wedded bliss for Richard and Onalee Scherer. Cheers from daughters Lori and Lisa.

n Mandy Johnson, an ex-PHS cheerleader and now Florida Gator junior,is 21. Cheers from folks Brett and Brenda and grandma Pat Price.

Vin’s People, runs Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Have a column item? A photo you want to share? Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, Fla. 34206 or email him at Please include a phone number for verification.