On a cloudy blustery Friday a few weeks ago I made my way to the south end of Pleasure Island to Kure Beach, North Carolina. I had been invited to see what the “Cape Fear Disabled Sportsman Fishing Tournament” was allabout. This annual event is put on by the Got-Em-On Fishing Club of Carolina Beach and hosted by the Kure Beach Fishing Pier.
As I arrived at the pier, it was astounding to see the number of participants in the registration area and on the pier already fishing. The participating anglers were young and old, male and female, lining the pier’s railing as far as the eye could see. With over 400 people participating, it was a sea of brightly colored t-shirts and a forest of fishing rods. Some were fishing independently and others were assisted by their care-givers. For many it was the first time they had ever fished in their life and faced the event with excitement and fun. Each had a rod and reel in one hand and most with a Brett’s doughnut in the other hand but everyone had a smile on their face. At closer look, I noticed that a number of the participants were not actually fishing. Instead, it was more fun laughing and just being a part of such a great event. I spoke to a young man named Chase Sampsel who told me that he had caught the first fish of the day which was a Pinfish. A small but important fish by any standards. As I continued to talk to Chase it was clear that he was proud of his accomplishment and had a pride that was in a wonderful humble manner. As I moved down the pier visiting with other contestants, one thing that stood out was the level of independence and confidence these folks had. While many caregivers were present, most were just standing nearby watching the events and enjoying the day as well.
Now, about the Got-Em-On volunteers. The club works tirelessly for the entire year to make this event a successful one. I spoke with volunteers Candice Wooten and Mike Seigh while they were cutting bait shrimp into smaller pieces in the chilling wind. They, like every volunteer that day, have a real passion for the tournament and its participants. Every one of the Got-Em-On club members that I spoke with commented that it was their favorite event of the year and said it with smiles on their faces as they went about their task to make the tournament a day to remember. These folks gave their time even if it meant taking off work.; all to create the gift of a memorable day to those finding joy in being at the beach and being with each other. If the goal for the club was to bring happiness to others, they succeeded beyond measure. An example was set for the rest of the Coastal Carolina fishing community which we should follow. They reach out every year to a group of people that otherwise would not have the opportunity to enjoy a day of fishing and making memories. Something the rest of take for granted. Great job guys and girls of the Go-Um-On Fishing Club!
Contributed By: Captain Tim Wilson, Editor and Chief