Make a Difference to Future Fishermen as a South Florida Volunteer

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County is well-known in the  community for having some of the most exciting community outreach programs available for both program participants and the community at large. Those who participate are often left excited and anticipating the next year’s follow-up, looking forward to it all year.

The annual fishing tournament is no exception. Bringing together community engagement and enrichment experiences for the participating children, this event balances the two perfectly – and manages to make water lovers out of even the most timid of children every year.

Longstanding Traditions, Big (and Little) Fun

The annual fishing tournament is one of the most storied and longest standing traditions when it comes to events held by BBBS Broward. This event has been occurring for four decades and brings out the volunteer initiative in almost every local person and business. Generous donations pour in from all parts of the community – and with over 100 “littles” from the programs enjoying the tournament, those donations are put to good use every year!

While trophies are awarded for prizes such as biggest fish, smallest fish, and most fish caught by a single participant, the name of the game is fun at this annual event. The tournament takes place in rain or sun, on the beautiful waters of the Bahia Mar Yachting Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

This year, the tournament will take place on Sunday, June 8th nd and will run from 8AM until approximately 1PM. After the fun and excitement concludes, pizza will be enjoyed and awards will be handed out to participants for the best catches of the day. It’s sure to be an event for the record books as the tournament enters its historic fortieth year!

It All Started with a South Florida Volunteer

All good stories have a great start, and the story behind the annual BBBS fishing tournament is no different.

Forty years ago, John Weller – a six -time cancer survivor and founder of the non-profit foundation Freedom Waters, an organization responsible for taking children with cancer out onto the water – began the annual fishing tournament. As a part of Weller’s mission to improve lives through the power of nature’s beauty and his love for the water, he has passed on a legacy of strength and hope to every South Florida volunteer and child who has participated in the tournament in the four decades since. This year, the event seeks to celebrate that legacy as Weller, still the event’s most avid supporter passes the reins to Trevor Carroll of Frasier Yachts.

A Brand New Experience

One of the most exciting elements of the fishing tournament for many of the “littles” involved is simply getting to participate in a real fishing expedition. When asked, many report that they have never been fishing or even been on a boat before. It’s an exciting new opportunity that few of these children – ranging in ages from 6-17 – would otherwise have the chance to experience. Those that have participated before often look forward to returning the following year after having so much fun their first time out on the water!

Of course, every captain that leads the groups is highly qualified and experienced in both fishing and navigating the water. The captains that are involved in the event have been donating their time and talent for many years – many of them for as long as the tournament has existed – and are as familiar with the waters of the tournament as they are typically their own local fishing holes.

Experienced Mentors

In addition to the mentorship of the people who regularly donate their time and energy to the cause of guiding the children in the BBBS programs, the annual fishing tournament is lead by an experienced team of captains with sterling records of community leadership and service – many of whom have been working with youth for much of their careers.

  1. Thank you to the incredible boat captains who have donated their time and vessels to the tournament. They are the key to this tournament’s success: 

Adam Covit, Al Wisne, Alan Charlop, Alan Sacharoff, Andrew Cilla, Andrew Grego, Andrew Jordan, Andy Duke, Arik Kislin, Ben Mitchell, Ben Colter, Bill Green, Bill Priestman, Bill Turl, Bill Turner, Bob Dean, Bob Martin, Bob Pope, Bob Roscioli, Brittany Jacob, Brock Pecknold, Bruce Schattenburg, Captain Bob, Charles Camacho, Charlie Sammarco, Chris Chumley, Chris Meier, Chris Pliske, Chuck McMahon, Coy Holzschuh, Dan Morrison, Daniel Beckham, Daniel Kamperveen, Dave Hickok, Dave Kostyo, David Bender, David Pliske, David Tabb, David Clark, Debbie Frankel, Derek Dettman, Don Canavan, Don Puglisi, Don Turner, Doug Baske, Doug Roberts, Ed Biggie, Edgar Medero, Eric De Jon, Federico Ferrante, Gary Clifford, George Johnson, George Jousma, George Mikelson, George Scott, Gigi Garcia, Glen McCloskey, Glenn Miller, Grey Marker, Harold, Howie Stein, Iain Lawrie, Jack Zacks, Jason Coopersmith, Jason Dunbar, Jason Kaplin, Jay Rigdon, JB Sirgany, Jeff Salter, Jeff Stanley, Jeremy Steinhart, Jerry Weber, Jim McConville, Joe Potter, Joel Wolf, Joel Brow, Joey Coopersmith, John Booysen, John Charos, John Cohen, John Keenan, John McElwee, John Woods, Jon Azevedo, Jon Burkard, Jon Roscioli, Josh Gulbranson, Jubal, Julio Sanchez, Justin Blue, Keith Collins, Kenny Dettman, Kevin Couvillon, Kevin Goff, Kyle Schmitt, Lang Ryder, Larry Kelly, Les, Budahazy, Lon McCloskey, Mark Bruck, Mark Drayton, Mark Geddis, Mark Peck, Max Woods, Michael Porter, Michael Woodward, Mike Bebe, Mike Danley, Mike Hartman, Mike Kula, Mike Matthies, Mike Stoker, Morgan Burturm, Nick Young, Paul Koch, Paul McQuade, Paul Flannery, Paul J. Fleming, Paul T. Fleming, Pete Luckenbach, Pete Wahn, Pete Woods, Peter Lenton, Phil Bartholomew, Phil Dunn, Randy Grant, Rebekah Kaufman, Rich Jones, Rich Murray, Richard Budalich, Richard Parra, Rob Kimball, Robert Duncan, Robert Miller Jr, Rodney Pethtel, Ron McTighe, Ryan Woods, Scott McIlvaine, Sean Moore, Seth Flippen, Stephanie Weiss, Steve Rushefsky, Steve Moynihan, Thurman Mintz, Tom Hartman, Tom Horvath, Tom Kopper, Tom Lihan, Tom Ralph, Tom Thornton, Tracy, Mcgregor, Trevor Carroll, Tung Luu, Walter Rowan, Wayne Cannava, Zach Savage.

These skilled and experienced captains make sailing out onto the waters a breeze for the groups that participate, but every South Florida volunteer that participates is a necessary and appreciated part of the overall event!

Generous Donations

Of course, donations of time are not the only thing that helps make the fishing tournament happen every year. Community events like these wouldn’t be possible without the assistance of every generous South Florida volunteer and benefactor.

Each year, donations of boats, fishing equipment, food, and more make their way to the BBBS organizers and help make the fishing tournament a swimming success. With nearly 40 years of successful tournaments behind them, the organizers know how to make the most of what they’re given – and the community that supports them never disappoints!

Some of the donation items that community organizers are always on the lookout for include:

  • Small containers of sunscreen
  • Pizza
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Trophies
  • Chum and other baits and lures

Those interested in donating these or other items or helping out with the event in other ways are urged to contact Ofelia DeLuca at or (954) 870-6390.

Related Stories