This past weekend (Saturday, October 20th, 2018) Old Salt Fishing Foundation hosted its annual Very Special Kids Fishing Day, taking special needs kids fishing out of Ft. Desoto Park on lower Tampa Bay. The day was blessed with amazing weather, the red tide was not present in the bay and the bite was on. 45 special needs children and their families got to go fishing with captains (or fisherman) that volunteered their time, fishing knowledge and boats. For some of these kids this was their first boat ride and their first fish caught, ever!
The day started at the Fort Desoto Boat Ramp. We all met up and coordinated families with fishing boats. Katherine Diaz headed up inviting the families from LiFT and Special Olympics. Lora Caddy, from Old Salts, coordinated the fishing boats. “Lots of priceless smiles are being made today,” Lora Caddy said over and over throughout the day.
The 45 boats hit the bay to find some fish. While most of the boats cruised the waters around the Skyway bridge, others headed out into the gulf. One captain and kids caught over 65 trout in just two hours (fish were all released). Almost every boat landed a fish and everyone had fantastic boat rides. The children ask to “go fast” when they are cruising around. It was truly amazing to watch these kids fish and see the camaraderie of the fisherman. Everyone helping each other out to make sure everyone caught fish.
Finally the day ends with a cookout lunch and awards. Lunch was provided by Snappers Sea Grill, Food King and Bimbo Bakeries. “Old Salt has been taking special needs kids fishing for the better part of 20 years now. Today was another epic day on the water for both the kids and the Captains. I saw grown men tear up as the offloaded the children from the boats,” says Tom Verdensky, president of Old Salt Fishing Foundation. Above all every child gets an award plaque, goody bucket and rod/reel combo donated by 13 Fishing.
A huge THANK YOU to everyone that made this day possible for Special Needs Kids Fishing! It took 46 Boats & Captains, 20 volunteers, the fire department loading the children in wheel chairs, Coast Guard and of course Katherine Diaz and Lora Caddy to coordinate this amazing day.
Local Community Partners donate time and goods to support special needs kids fishing
They say it takes a village …. here is ours. Suzuki Repower, Mastry Engine Center, Single Source Insurance, Aylesworth Fish and Bait, Bimbo Bakeries, 13 Fishing, Mirr-o-lure, Food King, Winn Dixie, Pro Marine, Snappers Sea Grill, Eckerd College Search and Rescue, Lealman Fire Department, Pinellas County Parks and Capt. Ryan Farner for assisting getting Captains/Boats for the event.