Children with autism and their parents fished July 21, in a stress-free fishing tournament to raise money for Face Autism Inc. Face Austism is a non-profit organization that provides sensory-friendly activities, support groups, referral for therapeutic services, structured classes and other necessary resources for children with autism and their families.
About 30 children on 17 different boats participated in the tournament on Beer Can Island. Adults received joke awards such as the broken pole award. By the end of the tournament, community members raised $1,200.
Firefighter and charter captain Chad Gamble and Kapi Whitfield started The Kiddie Pole Fishing Tournament in 2012 as a fun activity for children. Whitfield brought her 6-year-old son, Caden, who had a tumor on his hand, to fish in a stress-free environment, and her friend brought her autistic child.
After last year's tournament, Gamble said in 2013 he wanted the tournament to raise money for a non-profit organization. Whitfield chose Face Autism Inc. because she has friends who have autistic children.
“It’s so helpful because so many kids don’t know how to treat autistic children,” Whitfield said. “It is beneficial to teach our kids to treat them like they are typical kids. “
Whitfield’s 13-year-old daughter, Chasten, sent out emails and made phone calls to secure sponsors. Chasten had previously won first place at the Fire Charity Fishing Tournament and has exposure to many sponsors.
Twenty-seven sponsors donated items for swag bags, and every participating child recieved one.
Joe Mercurio, host of the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series, donated a truckload of supplies including Costa Del Mar sunglasses, which were auctioned.
“Here I am going we only have $1,200, but, to them, it meant so much,” Whitfield said.
Contact Yara Klimchak at [email protected]