Delany makes a stand for autism

Tyler Reed
Eli Delany, left, spoke on stage last fall at the Eastern Divisional about his autism awareness campaign. His autistic son, Luke, joined him on stage.

MEDFORD, Mass. ­— Being part of the winning team at the B.A.S.S. Nation Eastern Divisional last fall was just one of several reasons that Eli Delany never will forget Sept. 14.

"I was just so happy that Luke and my wife, Deb, could be a part of all of this, especially the final weigh in,” said Massachusetts B.A.S.S. Nation angler Eli Delany. “They support and motivate me to push on in my efforts to raise autism awareness, as well as improve as an angler, as a father, and as a husband.”

In fact, Luke, a 12-year-old with autism, joined Delany on stage for photos. And he sported a team jersey provided by Chip Servant, Massachusetts B.A.S.S. Nation president.

Additionally, the spotlight helped Delany promote My Little Buddy’s Boat, the program and website that he founded to encourage awareness about this disability that affects 1 in every 88 children. “I’m pretty sure I sold 92 decals directly at the divisional and had many waiting to be processed from online orders afterward,” he said.

Delany’s support doesn’t come at just the divisional level either. Some of the pros who promote My Little Buddy’s boat include Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli, Fred Roumbanis, John Crews, Gerald Swindle, Edwin Evers, Scott Martin, Randall Tharp and Mark Burgess.

Michelle Killburn and Rick Mackie at Mercury Marine also have assisted. “This helps my message better reach all the people in the marine community,” Delany said.

“Mercury and Miss GEICO (offshore race team) are very important corporations behind my effort and I thank them for their support.”

Meanwhile, Delany was especially grateful to Jon Stewart, B.A.S.S. Nation senior manager, for his help in making Sept. 14 so special. “He was extremely considerate in asking me to hold my fish — even though I was in the first flight — so that my wife and Luke could be a part of the final weigh-in, and I weighed in my biggest bag the final day.”

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