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Local Businessman & Entertainer Martin “Leigh Shannon” Fugate Raises Thousands For Stroke Survivor

Updated: Mar 21

Fugate Recently Opened Up About Stroke Recovery And Set A Goal To Help Others Recognize The Signs Of A Stroke


Martin “Leigh Shannon” Fugate celebrated 46 years in show business in late January by hosting a very special “Leigh Shannon’s Cabaret Dinner Show” at Hamburger Mary’s on Church Street in downtown Orlando. Leigh Shannon has capitalized on his wit, humor, and experience in the entertainment industry to lead the legendary Cabaret Dinner show for 14 years to SOLD OUT crowds. However, after recently suffering a stroke, Leigh, who is also a former candidate for Orlando City Council, District 3, decided to help another in the community who was in need.



Miss Cherylann Murphy Ponziano and Leigh Shannon
Stroke survivor and Publix employee, Miss Cherylann Murphy Ponziano along with Leigh Shannon and one of her Publix colleagues at Leigh’s Stroke Awareness Fundraiser.

As Leigh planned a special event to celebrate a career milestone, he opted to use the event as an opportunity to raise awareness for an issue he cared about, and to help another beloved citizen of College Park. Miss Cherylann Murphy Ponziano is a College Park resident, mother, grandmother and very fun lady who won over the hearts of locals while working as a cashier at Publix. Sadly, Miss Ponziano suffered a massive stroke late last year, leaving her facing many challenges. While she is now on the mend, Leigh’s fundraiser helped to offset the cost of her increased financial burdens, healthcare costs, and sudden changes to her way of life.


"This helped me in one of the most critical times of my life. I thank you, Leigh, for all your help and effort! Thank you my friend" Cheryl stated. The January event raised a total of $2750.00 for Miss Ponziano.


Leigh’s mission to increase stroke awareness is now personal. Up until recently, Leigh had been quiet and very few people knew this about his personal challenge with stroke recovery. Leigh was working one night on his run for Orlando District 3 City Commissioner when he felt his right knee go out at the door and felt very odd. He took two aspirin and went to hospital, and the next day found that he had a mild stroke. Leigh spent four days in hospital and went home to recover. Sadly, he had to resign from the race, citing circumstances beyond his control.


Local Business Owners and Leigh Shannon
Local Business Owners from “The Sewing Studio” showed up in support of Cherylann Murphy Ponziano!


Leigh struggled with the feelings of disappointment and told no one other than very close friends. He worked hard everyday on his own to return to himself. He went back to work in three weeks, and no one could tell that he had suffered a stroke. However, Leigh was struggling internally. Leigh opened up and shared this story at the January fundraiser, and continues to keep a focus on stroke awareness.

Donations for Miss Cherylann Murphy Ponziano, who also recently suffered the loss of her husband just a mere two weeks ago, can be made by sending donations to Publix in College Park, Florida. Of you may contact Leigh to get ahold of CherylAnn.


If you would like to know more about Leigh or Cherylann’s story, please contact us for an interview. It is his hope that others may recognize the signs of stroke, and that others may be helped while on the road to stroke recovery.

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