They anticipate it for months, and the days before the event they can hardly sleep at night. In their dreams, the boats roar, the fish bend the rod to the water, and there are prizes, hot dogs and drinks, trophies, fishing lures and baits, and FUN to be had with friends — new and old.
Some are old veterans like Mary and Mark, and others, like Jim and Cassidy, are rookies but willing to give it a shot. All they want is the chance to experience what other kids do but seldom get a chance. It, too, was a dream that Tim had some 13 years ago.
He had entered the bass fishing world as a pro, had been successful, and one day he determined he wanted to "give back" to the community and the fans that had been good to him. And he saw a need in the eyes of kids in his area — the disabled, the disadvantaged, and the mentally challenged.
But to achieve his dream of fulfilling the dreams of the kids, he needed help so he called in his "markers."
He bent the ear of his sponsors, his current and former competitors, his buddies from the bass clubs, and the business people of his community. And when they saw his commitment, they came, they contributed, and they supported his efforts. And in 2010, we celebrated the 13th year of Tim Horton's Fishing For Kids with a tremendous turnout. It takes a lot of folks and planning to make an event like this a success — for the kids (the primary reason this event exists), the volunteers and the boat captains. Tim, Mel, and Judy start early in the year rounding up sponsors and prizes and Tournament Director and Chief of Staff Brad Whitehead makes it work.
He brings all the elements together by ensuring there are enough boat captains on hand — bass boats and pontoons for the anglers in wheelchairs, worms and minnows, ice and hot dogs and buns, enough soft drinks to fill a barge, tables and chairs, garbage bags, sponsor lures and "giveaways," and boat loads of prizes and trophies for the participants.
Fishing For Kids takes anglers from Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, and from far ranging states like Ohio and the Mid-West and volunteers from every walk of life to make it work. Dennis Sherer of the Times Daily helps get the word out. Volunteers like Johnny Stonecipher, Ronnie Leatherwood, Mike Johnson, Sarah Parrish, Emma Sherer, Dakota Morgan, Renee Morgan, and a hundred others that we don't have the space to name give of their time and money to see that each of our kids goes away from the event with a smile on their face and a memory in their heart that will last forever.
Weekend anglers and bass club members, like John Thorton and his crew of Belgreen Bassmasters, Jimmy Morgan and Blake Gowen of Bassmasters of North Alabama, travel to Florence and tow their boats and supply the fishing expertise, the fuel and tackle to help make this a special day for the kids and adult participants of the event.
A special thanks goes out to Eddie Plemons of the Alabama B.A.S.S. Federation Nation for member volunteers and financial support, and to the many ladies that help prepare the picnic lunch and distribute the t-shirts. Fishing For Kids is truly a team effort.
For more information on Tim Horton or Fishing For Kids, visit his website timmyhorton.com