Fishin' with a mission

About the author

Michael Iaconelli

Michael Iaconelli

Michael Iaconelli is the only angler to have won the Bassmaster Classic, Bassmaster Angler of the Year and B.A.S.S. Nation Championship.

As many of you know I cut my beard for my wedding to Becky. (Actually she cut it for me, but who wants to get technical?) Now we're going to auction it for charity. The bidding will be on eBay, and should start shortly.

Here's the thing: You get my whiskers mounted in a professionally designed display case — enclosed in glass — along with an official Certificate of Authenticity. The certificate has been signed by me. I'm personally guaranteeing that everything is real. This is a true one-of-a-kind item.

We'll also have a video of Becky cutting off my whiskers before our wedding. It's very well-done, entertaining and good for a few laughs with your fishing buddies.

The thing that's really important about this is that the money we raise will be donated to a great charity. I have a good friend, Eli Delany, whose son, Luke, was diagnosed with autism when he was two years old.

Autism is a devastating medical condition that is becoming more common in our country every day. According to some estimates, a child is diagnosed with this condition every 21 minutes, and as high as one out of every 91 children has a form of it. Those numbers are huge. They deserve our attention.

Eli has worked hard since Luke's diagnosis to make his life better. Most of Eli's immediate attention has been to help Luke gain the skills he needs to lead as normal a life as possible.

Many of his efforts are directed towards seeing that Luke gets the right kind of education, both at a special school and at home. He also benefits from regular Friday afternoon trips to the local Bass Pro Shop and plenty of time on the water fishing. This makes for a very busy schedule, but one that Eli and Luke enjoy.

At the same time he's tried to help Luke on an individual basis, Eli has gone above and beyond the call of duty to increase awareness of autism and help those who suffer from it to lead as full and productive lives as is possible.

One of the programs he most admires is The New England Center for Children. They've been in the business of helping autistic children since 1975. They're professionally managed with an unwavering eye toward making the lives of autistic children better. The auction proceeds will be donated to them.

I urge all my friends to participate in this event. Not because it involves me, but because the proceeds will help the less fortunate. That's something those of us who have been lucky owe those who haven't. It's the right thing to do.

To learn more about Luke Delany check out Eli's Web site at www.mylittlebuddysboat.com. To learn more about autism and what you can do to help, visit the The New England Center for Children's Web site at www.necc.org.

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