Our Passion By: Paul Presson

We are so fortunate to have this love for fishing. Whether it is by boat, kayak, or land, it takes us to another place. It doesn’t matter if it is freshwater or saltwater, offshore or inshore, it can be all consuming. We have a portal to adventure, exploring different places we have never gone before.

Our imaginations run wild; we can be Magellan, seeking out new and uncharted territories. We can be part of the great Calusa Indian tribe, paddling the backwaters in search of our dinner, we are the great hunter/gatherers. Offshore, we can morph into Captain Ahab, in search of mighty sea creatures. This pastime takes us back to our youth, a carefree time with no worries.

Fishing opens so many doors that we previously could not conceive. It motivates us to get out of our homes, even at the most ungodly hours. The fresh air and amazing visual moments we experience are the best medicine for instant stress relief, once we may have had very few friends, but we now have more friends than we thought possible. We can all share our love for angling, and exchange stories and plan our next big trip.

Not only is fishing an amazing experience, but with the dreaming and preparation, we have little to no boredom in our lives. Before, when people asked us what gifts we wanted for the holidays we just shrugged our shoulders and accepted that not so pretty blue tie. Now we can call out a laundry list of things we have to have.

Fishing has changed us, our lives are more robust, and it gives us something to look forward to all the time. The hours spent working, time moves at a snail’s pace, when fishing; there is no way to make the clock slow down.

NOW STOP, the rug has just been pulled out from under you. You have had a catastrophic accident and you no longer have the use of your legs and sometimes your arms and hands. Worse yet, you may be very young and don’t think you’ll get the chances we have been given. A spinal cord injury seems to have robbed you of any of these opportunities. Not one of us has a magical shield that can prevent this, accidents happen and they can happen to any of us. Damage to a spinal cord can also occur due to cancer, stroke, bacterial infection, as well as a catastrophic accident.

There is a misconception that these injuries are caused by an individual’s recklessness, this just isn’t so. Take Hayden, at the age of six he was in a horrific car accident leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. The probability of him fishing or any of the functions that we take for granted, were near nil. His family had to figure out a way to afford the onslaught of medical bills from surgeries, therapy, and special equipment needs.

This is when the “Tighten the Drag Foundation” stepped in. Twice since his accident the Tighten the Drag Foundation brought Hayden’s family to Florida with all expenses paid to participate in intense therapy not available in his hometown. The latest trip was to enjoy a day on the water and catching fish. He has now experienced our passion.

The “Tighten the Drag Foundation” was organized after the spinal cord injury of Captain Robert Tramontana, who was a licensed Captain and Tampa Bay Area guide. The foundation is a fully transparent, one hundred percent volunteer, 501c3 non-profit, that focuses on quality of life for individuals with spinal cord injuries. They not only help with early activity based therapy, they provide assistance for an injured individual’s recovery journey.

The foundation provides scholarship funding for specialized therapy not covered by insurance and also adaptive sports activities with an emphasis on fishing trips. The stories of these individuals with spinal cord injuries are gut wrenching. Each injury is different and each has their own type of treatment that is very costly.

Let’s turn our passion into compassion, imagine you or a family member in this situation.  You can help! Volunteer, give a little, or give a lot. Every dollar contributed, is a dollar going to help enrich someone’s life. “Tighten the Drag Foundation” has a golf tournament and two fishing tournaments they host annually, amongst other events.

Corporate sponsorship is vital to ensure the scholarship fund to grow in order to help as many spinal injured as possible. Ask your employer, if you are the boss, please contact “Tighten the Drag”. Give others the chance to participate in our passion.

Please contact: tightenthedragfoundation.org

Photo Credit: Greg Leonard of All Anglers Inshore Fishing Charters

Photo Credit: Janet Jordan

Copyright Paul Presson