Many GIKC ‘thank yous’ to go around

June 30, 2017
By Marcy Shortuse

Thank You!
The Board of Directors of Boca Grande Charities, Inc. would like to thank everyone for making the 2017 Gasparilla Island Kids’ Classic Tarpon Tournament such a great success. The kids had a great time, releasing 28 big tarpon and raising $37,000 for our charities!
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 for the length and if we have missed someone.
We owe a special thank you to Bo Hitchcock with Columbia Sportswear for their continued support as presenting sponsor for the 2017 Tournament, and to Bobby Miller at Grande Aire Services for hosting the Family Interactive Art Show. Also to Wiley Nagler at Yellowfin Yachts for hosting the pre-tournament ceremonies, and a big thanks to Tamara Baldanza-Dekker with Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville for hosting our awards ceremony. U.S. Health Advisors joined us this year and was our host of the captains/volunteer party and sponsored four teams representing “Kids Needs of Englewood.” Thank you Troy McQuagge and all of “Conner’s Crew.” And thank you to John Reecher at The Gasparilla Inn & Club for hosting a great breakfast for our charitable partners, and to Doug Reichard, Joe Reichard and M.K. Norus at Stump Pass Marina and Grill for sponsoring the Captain’s Grande Prize drawing.
Tom and Anne Dupree, Pat and Lindsey Waterhouse, Jay and Kay Proops, thank you for sharing our vision and your support.
We really appreciated chief C.W. Blosser and the Boca Grande Fire Department team for their hands-on help hanging banners and hosing down the kids on the slippy slide etc … and to Bob Melvin at Gulf Coast International Properties for sponsoring hats for everyone. Thank you to our friends at The Boca Grande Woman’s Club, Realtor Randy Wojcik, Bob Webster, Bob Gale, Vah Erdekian, Scott Ferringa, along with Bruce Carbonari of The Island School for sponsoring teams of kids.
We’d like to recognize Jim Cooper with Lemon Bay Conservancy and their board, along with Lemon Bay High School Principal Bob Bedford, Vice Principal Michelle Weir, Science Teacher Mia Conlan and L.A. Ainger Vice Principal Brad Gibson with the Charlotte County School System for helping us organize the summer STEM Camp for the kids that we support.
We are also 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.
Thanks to Patsy Malone and Danielle Robbins at Parsley-Baldwin Realty, and especially to all the homeowners, along with Boca Grande Resort, for your help with accommodations for our sponsors and support team.
And thanks to Gasparilla Adventures for providing golf carts for the event, along with the team at the Pink Pony for golf carts and ice cream prize tickets for the kids. Monica Clay, Tracy Mills, Aaron Diaz, Gary Cross, Alison Henderson, Richie and Leslie Edwards … we see you and appreciate all you do behind the scenes. Robin Melvin, Melina Chaplin, Cathy Klettke, Kerri Jacobs, Michael Foster have all stepped up and worked above and beyond the call of duty taking care things like event setup, books, registration, goodie bags, etc … and just helping out with the long list of details that seems to grow every day. You guys are the greatest. We can’t go any further without recognizing all the hard work from graphic art designer Daniel Godwin at the Boca Beacon, Donnie Cayo and 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.
Thanks to Dan Stickley at Englewood Glass & Mirror for donating all the individual trophies for the kids and captains. The Board of Directors at the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce, Kix Country Radio 92.9, 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 Lee County Sheriff’s Office, and Shelby Nabergal for singing the National Anthem … you have all joined in and made this a truly community-organized event. Our “Family Interactive Art Show” wouldn’t be possible without the support of the artists and Carroll Swayze and her tireless efforts setting it all up.
Thanks to Marcy Shortuse for maintaining the social media and a bunch of other media-related “stuff,” and to Becky Paterson at Seale Family, Inc. Realty along with Spencer Paterson, Eddie Kopp and Thomas Lutz for all their help capturing the day’s action on video.
And to Wesley Locke and Rick Montgomery at for documenting the spirit of the event. Thanks to Randy Upton and Tearshea Williams and all the volunteers from Publix for getting involved and taking the challenge of feeding all the kids after the tournament. Katrina and Tony Towns from Able’s Marine, the staff at Barnichol Hardware, Jim Mackey at Fisherman’s Edge Tackle, Sue Hoots at Courtyard Hair and everyone at Gasparilla Outfitters who helped create the opportunity for the kids and captains win some great prizes. 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 Ron and Charlotte Walker at Walker Homes for providing the VIP boat for all our special guests. Good times! Chuck Forrest, Herb and Nancy Soedel, the Doug and Gail Davis family, Bill Henry, Tom Waters, Ken Heinmann, Julie Camp, Dusty and Cheryl Hopkins, and Mark Spurgeon at Boca Grande Real Estate … thank you. We appreciate all the businesses and individuals that have sponsored teams, and also 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. Smitty, you’ve always done a great job keeping the competition on track. Thanks to Joe Weir at the Boca Grande Community Center for their leadership and maintaining a great gathering spot for so many important island events.
And a special thank you to all the kids and captains who were fishing the tournament. We hope you had fun and enjoyed a 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 everyone at Easter Seals of SW Florida, Moffitt Cancer Center, Englewood Community Care Clinic and All Children’s Hospital for your continuing hard work to help treat those suffering from illness, especially cancer. And also everyone of our education partners, The Island School, Lemon Bay High School and L.A. Ainger Middle School and Lemon Bay Conservancy.
You’re all doing a great job, and we are proud to support you!
Capt. Sandy Melvin, Bill Klettke, Michael Vaughn Board of Directors Boca Grande Charities, Inc.