Mr. Dependable – Honoring Wade Leffel

Mr. Dependable – Honoring Wade Leffel

I am pretty sure most people know someone or has a special person in their lives that no matter what, they can always depend on. It takes a special human to put others first. Someone not ever worrying about themselves but always concerned for others and what he or she may be able to do to help. Mr. Dependable is just that kind of person. For more than a decade Wade Leffel has been that guy to a group of volunteers who introduce our next generation of anglers and their families to fishing. Over the last 10 years plus while being a member of Anglers for Conservation, Gumbo Wars Inc. and now Junior Angler Education, Wade has helped introduce more than 10,000 kids and families to fishing.

At the recent “Gumbo Wars” event held on October 9th at Fish on Fire Restaurant in South Orlando, Wade was honored for his years of dedication for efforts with “Hook Kids on Fishing” events and for his efforts helping the Gumbo Wars annual cook-off! Wade at the young age of 75 years has decided to pass the torch so to speak to some of the younger crowd. He has never missed one of the “Hook Kids on Fishing” volunteer events – that the number exceeds 80 events to-date. His job is one of many, he is personally responsible for delivering our loaded trailer to every event, supervising the group of volunteers in the set-up and break- down of all the tents, tables, signage, installing banners, accessories, equipment, tackle, and anything else required to put on. Once the event is complete Wade manages to gather all the same and reload the trailer for the next event and hauls to the storage yard with his own vehicle. His involvement has been priceless, and it may take several members to replace him.

At these fishing events, usually 100 kids and their parents are introduced to fishing for the first time. They are placed in groups of 20 kids or so and rotate through 5 different workstations, learning about boating safety, how to properly handle the fish they catch, learn about basic tackle, learn to tie on a hook and learn how to cast a fishing rod. Kids and family are shown best practices of how to safely carry and handle the fishing rod. When the kids complete all five stations, they are given a brand-new rod and reel combo including a small tackle box for “FREE”! Wade says that seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces when they receive their new rod is enough payment. What really makes him smile is when those same kids are old enough to return and volunteer their time to help other kids learn the same thing. Most of us remember your very first fishing rod and catching your first fish, Wade Leffel has been personally responsible for creating over 10,000 of those memories!

Wade has also been heavily involved in our groups’ “Gumbo Wars” event. This annual event is a fund raiser to benefit local youth fishing organizations. Wade has never missed one of these events either. With similar responsibilities, he’s overseen bringing the Hook Kids on Fishing trailer, dragging it across town and unloading it with his volunteers help and setting up. He also is our Volunteer Coordinator in charge of keeping up with our volunteers’ names, phone numbers, contact info, job distribution and for tracking hours for their community service and signing off on their record sheets. He has been Vice-President of our group for many years and has always done what-ever-it-takes to make events go smoothly.

Honoring Wade with a beautiful glass engraved plaque at our recent Gumbo Wars event brought tears to his eyes when Capt. Tom Van Horn who did the presentation while others in the crowd including many of the kids present helping with the event knowing that Mr. Dependable is finally passing the torch on to a younger crowd.

From all our volunteer members, and the many kids and families Wade has introduced to fishing, we all Thank You for your years of unselfish community services. You will be missed moving forward and replacing you will be a task for sure. Best wishes to Wade in his future endeavors. If you’re reading this and would like to get involved with our organization or volunteer your time visit our website or contact Phil Wolf at 407-790-9515 or email