It’s a week after Ian hit

By: Mike Hammond

Yesterday I had a chance to look at the online version of my October Coastal Angler article.  The article mentioned the Calusa Blueway Kayak Fishing Tournament and the Sirenia Vista kayak launch.

It’s a week after Ian hit.  I doubt that the floating kayak launch is still in the park.

A day or two after Ian passed, I was able to get enough of a cellar signal to see the devastation that happened throughout our area.  Information came in bits and pieces.  When I heard what had happened in Matlacha, I thought that we would have to cancel the fishing tournament.  Then reality started to sink in and the terrifying thoughts we all had started pouring in.  Were my friends safe?  The organizers of the tournament and owners of Gulf Coast Kayak, Diana and Bryan, are safe.  I still don’t know the status of their business, but their building is standing and their beach launch is one of the staging areas for rescue efforts on Pine Island.

Yesterday Diana reached out to me and Klair from the Candlelighters of Southwest Florida.  We all agreed for many reasons to cancel the tournament this year.

The Candlelighters of Southwest Florida has been the beneficiaries of the tournament for several years.  Their mission is to provide support, education and assistance to families of children with cancer or blood disorders and the professionals who care for them.  While fishing tournaments and many other fundraisers have been postponed, cancer has not.  Cancer doesn’t slow down because parents lost their cars, roads are flooded, medical facilities are closed.  It doesn’t wait until families have a safe place to stay.  I can’t imagine what these families are going through right now.  I do know we can still help though.  The Candlelighters of Southwest Florida and Calusa Blueway Kayak Fishing Tournament Facebook pages will both have links to make donations and win Body Glove inflatable standup paddleboards and a kayak.  Vanhunks donated a 12’ Zambezi kayak and Surf 9 generously donated six iSUPs for tournament prizes and raffle items.  All six iSUPs and the kayak will be used to raise as much money as possible for the Candlelighter families.  These families needed help before Ian.  Now they need us more than ever.  Please help if you can or share this if you can’t.

Thank you.

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