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Fishing for Kids catches event-best fundraising effort

When 80 boats departed Sea Hag Marina in Steinhatchee, Fla., at safe light on April 27, the Fishing for Kids fundraising effort was already surging behind the scenes to support UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital.

The 19th annual Fishing for Kids Saltwater Trout Tournament kicked-off with a low country boil on Friday evening for participants and their families before a Saturday of fishing, a fish fry and an extensive post-tournament raffle. At the end of the festivities, event organizers announced that Fishing for Kids raised over $45,000 for UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, the most in the history of the tournament.

Every dollar benefits the children’s hospital and its most critical program needs, including patient-centered care and innovative pediatric research.

“It’s been 19 years since we started this event,” said John Willingham, UF Health’s director of maintenance and long-time Fishing for Kids volunteer. “Every year it keeps getting bigger and more fun, and with our group it becomes a teadm concept and huge morale booster. It brings us together as a family.”

In contrast to the previous years’ event, rain held off until the late afternoon for the fishers competing for the top prize. Though the wind was gusty, it couldn’t stop all 80 boats from giving it their best effort on the water. With $2,500 in prizes for the tournament winners and the post-event raffle, the excitement and camaraderie among attendees helped demonstrate the true spirit of the event.

Andy Phillips and Adam Ivery with their 1st place trophies.

“The most impressive thing for all of us is to see the smile on the kids’ faces there and at the hospital. We all know the joy that it brings them,” Willingham said.

Event Winners:

1st Place Trout Stringer – Andy Phillips and Adam Ivery

2nd Place Trout Stringer – Bruce Bergman and Shane Bergman

3rd Place Trout Stringer – Greg Hause and Tom Crisalli

4th Place Trout Stringer – Rick and M’Alice Julius

Biggest Trout: Mark Crews and Dustin Simmons

Piper with her 1st place trophy after winning the kids category.


Biggest Redfish – Rick and M’Alice Julius

Most Spots – John and Debbie Willingham

Kids Category:

1st Place – Piper

2nd Place – Clay

3rd Place – Annabelle

Fishing for Kids Sponsors

Presenting – Brasfield and Gorrie, WW Gay, D&C Foods

Star – Miller Electric, CIS – Creative Industrial Solutions, Pvideon Insulation

Miracle – Remediation Specialists USA, Trane, Merrill Lynch, TKE, Tom Barrow, Taylor’d HVAC, AEI, Insite Building Services, In Memory of Jonathan Jones, CED Raybro, Scorpio, Resa Power

Champion – MDM Commercial, BBI Construction, Absolute Flooring, Optimal Creations, Cullison-Wright, Nelson & Company, Complete Network Solutions Inc

 Hope – Southern Waters Company, National Firestopping Solutions, Momar Inc, McGriff Williams Insurance, Mechanical Vibration Analysis, UniFirst, Nalco Water, Walmart #4565, FloGrown, Fish Bites

Thank you to Sea Hag Marina for hosting Fishing for Kids and providing a generous use of their space during the event.