Letter to the Editor: Many thanks for another successful Gasparilla Island Kids Classic

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To the Editor:

The Board of Directors of Boca Grande Charities, Inc. would like to thank everyone for making the Gasparilla Island Kids Classic Tarpon Tournament such a great success. In five short years we have now raised almost $150,000 for our charities with this one day, 3 hour kids fishing tournament.

It truly has become “the world’s greatest kids fishing tournament.”

An event like this would not be possible without the generous financial donations of our sponsor partners and the commitment of time and energy from the many volunteers who make it all happen.

We know it’s impossible to name everyone we’d like to thank, but we’re going to try to name as many as we can. Our apologies in advance if we have missed someone.

First, we’d like to thank The Boca Grande Women’s Club, Pat and Lindsey Waterhouse, Tom and Ann Dupree, Kay and Jay Proops for their vision and support.

We owe a special thank you to Bobby and Tammi Miller at Grande Aire Services for their support as presenting sponsor for the 2015 tournament, also to Wiley Nagler at Yellowfin Yachts and to Bo Hitchcock at Columbia Sportswear and for joining us as platinum level sponsors.

It’s great to have The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation join us this year to help us teach the kids responsibility for their environment, and Jim Cooper with the Lemon Bay Conservancy and their board, along with L.A. Ainger Principle, Marcia Louden and Curriculum and Instruction Specialist, Nick Piscitelli with the Charlotte County School System for helping us organize the new juvenile tarpon research STEM Camp for the kids that we now support.

We are grateful to Elsie Bracken for her body of conservation work over the years and are proud to name our LBC STEM Camp Scholarship program in her honor.

Special thanks to our special guest for 2015 Joie Chitwood III from Daytona International Speedway for his help with the winning captains prize package and spirited support.

Melina Chaplin, Patsy Malone, Monica Clay, Tracey Mills, we appreciate all you do behind the scenes.

We can’t go any farther without recognizing all the hard work from graphic art designer Daniel Godwin and Dusty Hopkins at the Boca Beacon, and Donnie Cayo, along with Sue Snyder, at CCMPhotoBooks.com. They have spent a great amount of time and energy on the spectator guide, banners, posters and photo books. We can’t thank them enough.

Robin Melvin, Kerri Jacobs, Aaron Diaz, Gary Cross and crew have all stepped up and worked above and beyond the call helping out with the long list of details that seems to grow everyday. You guys are the greatest.

We have a special, beautiful perpetual team trophy honoring Ed and Judy Davis, by island artist Stuart Hoeckel. Thanks Stuart, your work is great! And thanks to Dan Stickley at Englewood Glass & Mirror for donating all the individual trophies for the kids and captains.

Emily and Howard Wise have helped battle cancer for years working with Relay For Life, thanks for supporting our efforts to fight cancer as well.

Lew Hastings at the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce, WENG Radio 107.5, Carlton Wing and the Wing Media Group, Chad Lach at the Gasparilla Island State Park, The Lemon Bay High School ROTC, The Island School, The Charlotte County Warbirds, The Boca Grande Fire Department, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, and Francesca Gallucci for singing the National Anthem, you have all joined in and made this a truly community organized event.

Nat Italiano once again gave his time and energy to handle the cookout for all the kids at the community center registration, and we enjoyed a great sponsor breakfast hosted by the Gasparilla Inn and Club. Thank You!

Adam and Danette Bartolotta at ROI Media help us out maintaining the Website, Facebook page and a bunch of other media related “stuff”. Sean and Brooks Paxson at Shot Locker Productions captured all the action on video along with Spencer Paterson, Eddie Kopp at State of Mind Media and Thomas Lutz of Higher Imaging who did great drone video work. Also, thanks to Hal Coleman for donating the barge base station to fly those drones.

Thanks to Paula Beecher and Lisa Ianita from Sisters Restaurant for feeding all the kids their great pizza after the tournament.

Sue Hoots at Courtyard Hair, Bob Melvin with Gulf Coast International Properties, Katrina and Tony Towns from Able’s Marine, Jim Mackey at Fisherman’s Edge Tackle, Julie Camp and Ken Heiman and the the Pink Pony team, PJ’s Seagrille and The Temptation Restaurant crews, Garrett Lown and Jerry Taylor at Boca Grande Marina and everyone at Gasparilla Outfitters who helped create the opportunity for the kids and captains win some great prizes.

Gary and Karen Heffner at TeeShirtsOnYou.com were so kind to have donated the tee shirt screening to help the Kids Classic continue to grow.

Thanks to Ron Walker with Ron Walker Homes for providing the VIP boat. You are the man!

The Scott Feringa family, Mick and Kathy Aslin, Doug and Gail Davis, Carol Vaughn, Bob and Karen Webster, Becky Patterson, Bruce Carbonari, Jim Parr, Heath Seckle, Rich Caccavale, Julie Salvetti, Dean and Diane Petipren, Bob and Joyce Hegstrom, Vah and Lisa Erdekian, Randy Wojick and Mark Spurgeon at Boca Grande Real Estate … thank you all.

We appreciate all the businesses and individuals who have sponsored teams and to the official observers too numerous to mention here. We would like to single out Dave “Smitty” Smith for continuing to accept the responsibility as Head Judge for the tournament, you’ve always done a great job keeping the competition on track.

Thanks to Isabelle Joiner and the board of the Crowinshield Community House for maintaining a great gathering spot for so many important island events.

And a special thank you to all the kids and captains who fished the tournament. We hope you had fun and enjoyed a competitive event. Your participation helped a family somewhere and you are helping to educate others while protecting our wonderful tarpon fishing resource.

Finally, we’d like to thank everyone at Moffitt Cancer Institute, Englewood Community Care Clinic and All Children’s Hospital for all your continuing hard work to help treat those suffering from illness, especially cancer. You’re doing a great job!

Boca Grande Charities,Inc.

Capt.Sandy Melvin

Bill Klettke

Michael Vaughn

Boca Grande