Hometown Hero – December 2018

The Charitable Neighbor

Known for his kind heart and willingness to lend a hand, Capt. Mike Rolls of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office is December’s Healthy Living Hometown Hero. 

Life can be brutal. All you have to do is turn on the nightly news to have that confirmed. 

But Captain Mike Rolls, an Ocala native who has been with the Marion County Sheriff Office since 1990, has a different take on it. In his view, if everyone just made it a point to help their neighbors, our whole world would be a better place. 

Despite the fact that Mike has made a career in a field where he often sees the worst in people, he’ll be the first to admit life can bring out the best in them, too.

Mike himself is a prime example.

In September 2002, as part of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team, he was shot three times when the team attempted to serve a high-risk warrant at a drug dealer’s house. During the shooting, Mike dove in front of another officer to shield him. The incident left Mike with life-threatening injuries that required multiple surgeries. He not only survived the shooting but proved wrong the doctors who said he might lose his legs or never walk again.

Mike returned to his job with the sheriff’s office and was later awarded a Purple Heart and Medal of Valor. If anything, the experience only strengthened Mike’s resolve to reach out to others.

“I love putting a smile on somebody’s face,” he says simply.

He routinely gets calls from the local organization Community with a Heart about projects that need doing. Mike grabs his tools and takes care of the task at hand, whether it’s fixing a plumbing problem, replacing a toilet, installing a cabinet, mowing a lawn for an elderly neighbor or whatever the issue might be.

“I learned how to fix things from my father and grandfather,” says Mike. “My parents instilled in me to help others. We were taught ‘Love thy neighbor.’ I’m never one to walk past someone who needs help.”

It’s not always manual labor that’s required. 

Mike is the kind of guy who notices a veteran in a restaurant, thanks him for his service and quietly pays for his lunch. He’s the man who takes time to shoot baskets with the neighborhood boys, encouraging them and letting them know they can always talk to him. 

Mike is also a hands-on father; he and fiancée Susana Pascuma have five children between them.

“Mike is so humble, and he does so many things to help, even when he isn’t in uniform,” says Susana. “He encourages everyone around him to do their best.”

“People in our society are so quick to be negative rather than positive. They don’t usually have sympathy for others until something traumatic happens, like a hurricane,” says Mike. “We shouldn’t wait until something happens; we should have compassion and help each other all the time.”

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