On a gloriously sunny day, the Casey Cares 2nd Annual Rockfish Tournament proved to be a hugely successful event on Friday, June 2. The event began at the crack of dawn with our 30+ boats hitting the Chesapeake Bay waters in search of the biggest Rockfish. The crews returned to shore at the Bay Bridge Marina with their buckets of fish and then enjoyed a wonderful and relaxing afternoon at The Inn at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club Resort. In the evening, our guests enjoyed cocktails, an amazing dinner (yes, the daily catch was VERY fresh Rockfish prepared by the Inn's fabulous chefs), a silent and live auction, dancing and dessert! Congrats go to Jason Zagasky and the Rockin' Robin crew, which caught the largest fish at 14.5 pounds. The Bernsteins came in second with a fish weighing 13.55 pounds.
Everyone enjoyed the day, but we all knew there was more to this party than fishing and friends. This is a fundraiser to support the uplifting and ongoing programs at Casey Cares, and together, we were able to raise more than $76,000 to help us continue to create little moments and lasting memories for families with critically ill children.
Among the folks enjoying the water at the event were Matt, a boy in our programs who is battling leukemia, and his family, as well as another boy, Nestor, who has thyroid cancer, and his family. Matt was aboard a boat, courtesy of donor and Rockfish committee member Ray Patterson, and Nestor and his family were guests of Ernest Litty. Another little boy, Houston, his sister, Charlee, and mom, Sara, also went fishing on Friday thanks to Jeff Eichler of Southpaw Fishing Charters.
For families with critically ill children, it is so difficult to plan outings like this. First, the child has to be healthy enough to participate. Then, there is getting access to a boat. Not to mention organzing schedules between chemo, infusions, doctor appointments and hospital visits. Add in siblings' schedules with sports, dance recitals and school events, and getting out of the house is an endeavor in and of itself. And it is also expensive. So when Casey Cares steps in and arranges everything and has generous donors, magic can happen.
One of our families had the opportunity to go fishing with Captain Brady Sweitzer of Casey Michelle Charters. A teenager named Austin, who was battling osteosarcoma, a very painful form of cancer that attacks the bones, spent the day with Captain Brady, and for a few hours, he put the pain aside and enjoyed life on the water. Sadly, Austin died in May, and his family said he was wearing his fishing shirt when he passed away. A memory was made, and while his family knows much of his life was spent in treatment, they also know his spirits were lifted thanks to Casey Cares and Captain Brady.
Special thanks to board member John Sovero who created this event and is the leading force behind it! You and your family dedicate numerous hours, tons of energy and spirit to this incredible day, and a huge shout out to Laurence "Lolo" Gensler, whose Team Hudson United raised $6,005 and won out Captain's Challenge as the top fundraising team!
In addition, Casey Cares would like to thank:
- OUR TOP SPONSORS: Corporate Offices Properties Trust, Atlantic Financial Group, Gander’s Car Wash, 1st Team Staffing, Triangle Sign & Service, Judge Yachts, Patuxent Roofing, CBRE/Hillbilly Realty, Boddiford-Koras Group/Morgan Stanley, Parkville Crabs, BZB Design and Build, Smoove and SNLF Photography.
- OUR MEDIA SPONSORS: WZBA/100.7 The Bay, Chesapeake Bay Magazine, CITYPeek and Downtown Diane and WMAR/ABC2News reporter Jeff Herman who spent the day with one of our families and filed this report.
- BuckWear and Mojo Art and Image for the printing terrific T-shirts for this event and to Under Armour for providing the shirts, and to Dave Smith of the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishing Association for helping at the weigh station.
- The Inn At The Chesapeake Bay Beach Resort and the Bay Bridge Marina for their exceptional hospitality. What an amazing place to spend the day. Mark Andrews and Emily Hood were a huge help at the marina, and Kellen Shepard and his staff at The Inn At The Chesapeake Bay Beach Resort are top professionals.
- Our committee members: Bill Judge, Amy Larkin, Greg Shute, Vanessa Gensler, Ray Patterson, Kellen Shepard, and, of course, John Sovero.
- Kentavious Jones for his musical talents. The music was fantastic and added so much to the festivity of the evening.