It takes a lot of hard-working people to make the GIKC as successful as it is

June 14, 2019
By Marcy Shortuse

To the Editor:
What a great year for the Gasparilla Island Kids Classic Tarpon Tournament. Records were broken with 81 tarpon released, and we raised $42,000 for community charities!
The Board of Directors of Boca Grande Charities, Inc. would like to thank everyone for making the tournament such a great success.
An event like this would not be possible without the generous financial donations of our 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 Pat and Lindsey Waterhouse, Kay and Jay Proops, and those who wish to remain anonymous for their vision and support.
We owe a special thank you to Jimmy Buffet and the Margaritaville staff of Tamara Baldanzer-Dekker and Kelley Hatala for becoming our presenting sponsor and hosting “Camp Margaritaville.” Also, a special thank you to Bo Hitchcock with Columbia Sportswear and to Troy McQuagge and his team at US Health Advisors for hosting the pre-tournament ceremonies. Thanks to Bobby Miller at Grande Aire Services for hosting the awards party; to the Boca Grande Women’s Club and to Researcher JoEllen Wilson from the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, who helped us teach the kids responsibility for their environment. Thank you to L.A. Ainger Principal Jeff Harvey, Lemon Bay High School Principal Bob Bedford and all the other staff within the Charlotte County School System for helping us organize the summer research STEM Camp for the kids that we support.
We are grateful to Elsie Bracken for her body of conservation work over the years and are proud to name our STEM Camp Scholarship program in her honor.
A special thanks is due to Joe and Doug Reichard along with Georgia Reagan at Stump Pass Marina and The Lighthouse Grill for the great Captain’s Grande Prize and catering support of the tarpon symposium. Thanks to Mike Vasher, Michael Foster and Rob Domke and to all the homeowners for their help with accommodations for our sponsors and support team. Thank you Jon Reecher and the great staff at The Gasparilla Inn & Club for hosting the sponsor breakfast.
Monica Clay, Emily Rench, Tracy Mills, Leslie Edwards, Melissa Joiner-Steyer, Kay Steyer, Kristie Coleman, Susan Cabot, Mia Conlon and LBHS students … we appreciate all you do behind the scenes as event volunteers!
We can’t go any further without recognizing all the hard work from graphic arts designer Daniel Godwin at the Boca Beacon and Donnie Cayo, along with Sue Snyder at 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, Melina Chaplin, Cathy Klettke and Yuli Fedoryshyn have all stepped up and worked above and beyond the call of duty taking care things like the website, banners, books, registration, goodie bags … and just helping out with the long list of details that seems to grow every day. You guys are the greatest.
Thanks go to Wesley Locke at the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce, Carlton Wing and the Wing Media Group, Park Manager Rick Argyle and  the staff at the Gasparilla Island State Park, The Lemon Bay High School ROTC, The Island School, The Charlotte County Warbirds, Chief C.W. Blosser and the firemen at The Boca Grande Fire Department, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, and all the EasterSeal Kids for singing the national  anthem. You have all joined in and made this a truly community-organized event.
Our great ”Family Interactive Art Show” wouldn’t be possible without all the volunteer artists, and thanks to the Boca Grande Fishing Guides Association for rounding up the mullet for the mullet toss!
Thanks to Marcy Shortuse and Eric and Susan Wells for maintaining the Facebook page and a bunch of media-related “stuff.” Thanks also to Rick Montgomery and crew at Island TV for all their help capturing the day’s action on video, along with Capt. Josh Olive and Capt. Mike Myers at Waterline radio.
Sue Hoots at Courtyard Hair stepped up with a great girls’ first-release prize spa day package.
A special thanks to Randy Upton and all his volunteers from Publix for getting involved and taking the challenge of feeding all the kids after the tournament.
Thanks to Bob Melvin with Gulf Coast International Properties and Gasparilla Vacations for hosting the Tarpon Symposium, Betsy Joiner and the Board of the Boca Grande Historical Society, Katrina and Tony Towns from Able’s Marine, Aaron Diaz at Barnichol Hardware and Gulf Coast Hardware, Dave Kelley at Rotonda Golf and Country Club, Jason Rice at Taz Tile, Jim Mackey at Fisherman’s Edge Tackle, the team at the Pink Pony, Eric Knight at Boca Grande Marina, and everyone at Gasparilla Outfitters who helped create the opportunity for the kids and captains win some great prizes. Thank you Lisa Sims at Gasparilla Adventures by helped and providing golf carts for Christine Kaminsky and Brandon Bowen for the parking shuttle and our sponsors during the event. Capt. Mark Lieberman and Scott Feringa, thanks for helping out with VIP boats.
Gary and Karen Heffner at were so kind to have donated the bandanas and T-shirt screening to help the Kids Classic continue to grow.
Thanks to Capt. Ralph Allen at Kingfisher Charters for providing a VIP boat for the Easterseals families and friends, and Ron and Charlotte Walker and for providing a VIP boat for special guests too, good times!
The Scott Feringa family, Doug and Gail Davis, Doug Davis Jr., Rina Remmers at Nicola’s Restaurant and SYSCO Foods, Ken Heinmann, Julie Camp, Randy Clay, Bob and Karen Webster, Bruce Carbonari, Vah and Lisa Erdekian, Dusty and Cheryl Hopkins, Jackie Fogarty, Shelly Cleary,, Dennis Parent, John and Gina Bell, Julia Davis, Dondi Davis, Randy Wojick at Boca Grande Real Estate, Capt. Morris Campbell and Capt. Mark Lieberman … thank you.
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 Joe Weir at the Boca Grande Community Center for your leadership and maintaining a great gathering spot for so many important island events. Marta Howell with the Dee Wheeler Summer Camp and the board of the Gasparilla Island Maritime Museum.
And a special thank you to all the kids and captains who are fishing the tournament. We hope you have fun and enjoy a fun and competitive event. Your participation will help a family somewhere and you are helping to spread our education/conservation message to protect our wonderful tarpon fishing resource for years to come.
Finally, we’d like to thank Moffitt Cancer Center for continuing the hard work to help treat those suffering from illness, especially cancer, and to EasterSeals of Southwest Florida for making life a little easier for those with serious challenges. And also to everyone of our education partners, The Island School, Lemon Bay High School and L.A. Ainger Middle School and the Boca Grande Community Center.
Everyone is doing a great job and we are proud to support you all!
Capt. Sandy Melvin, Bill Klettke, Ron Walker
Board of Directors
Boca Grande Charities, Inc.