Annually, for the past 32 years, Old Salt Fishing Foundation has sponsored a fun filled day of fishing specifically for special needs children. The Old Salt Very Special Kids Fishing Tournament, held at Fort Desoto Park Boat Ramp this year, was no different. On Saturday, October 21, 2017, better than fifty special needs children and their families were paired up with Old Salt captains and taken out fishing in the Tampa Bay.
The Captains, with their boats showed up around 8:30AM, excited to take special kids out for a fishing trip. Each one donated their time, boats, rods and expertise to ensure a great day of fishing. “We are not going go fishing, we are going catching,” said Captain Ryan Harrington as he was headed out. Captain Harrington was fortunate enough to take a child that had never been out with us before.
The day is always filled with excitement. From the start; getting on a boat & going fishing, followed up with lunch and finally an exciting award ceremony. The event takes months of planning, from talking with each family to ensure we meet all the needs the child may have, coordinating the proper boat and captain to each child and of course making sure we have plenty of goodies, trophies and beautiful lunch for each family. This year Lora Caddy (Old Salt Fishing Foundation) and Katherine Diaz (LIFT Academy volunteer) took on the task, with admirable success.
And, this year we had a very special first ever…. We were blessed with the addition of a new youngster, from across the Atlantic Ocean. A young teen (Matthew) from England. Matthew is in the area for treatments addressing a serious neurological condition and was fortunate enough to meet another teen facing the same challenges. This new friend extended an invitation to both Matthew and his family to come out for the Old Salt Very Special Kids Fishing Tournament. This was Matt’s first experience on the water and first time fishing. Captain Walker had the pleasure to take him out and show him the ropes.
Lunch was cooked & served by Old Salt volunteers and headed up by our vice president Dan Casey. It was awesome. Hamburgers and hot dogs with pasta salad, coleslaw, chips and of course all the fixings were grilled up on site. We also were blessed to have lots of sweet treats provided by Bimbo Bakeries.
A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone that made this possible including: The Captain’s, Old Salt Board of Directors, Old Salt Volunteers, LIFT, Katherine Diaz, Pinellas County Park – Ft. Desoto, Tierra Verde Fire Department, Eckerd College, Suzuki Repower, Mastry Engine Center, TECO Energy, Pro Marine Boats, Aylewsorth’s Fish & Bait, Bimbo Bakeries, Food King, Dunkin’ Donuts – Bay Pines, Chick fil A – Seminole and Winn Dixie.