Knights Hold 2018 Special Needs Fishing Tournament
“I got one!”
Angler Nick Drake of Evansville landed the panfish swiftly, and his Dad, Ed, released it back into the lake right after a measurement and some photos. Nick quickly cast his worm-tipped hook back into the water, staring intently at his bobber and waiting for the next bite – which came almost immediately.
Drake’s catch was not isolated. The shoreline of a fairly large private lake in Warrick County teemed with activity on May 19 as approximately 80 special-needs anglers and their families enjoyed the annual fishing tournament staged by Knights of Columbus Council #10257 of St. Clement Parish in Boonville.
“This is our signature event of the year,” said Knight Dennis McVey, who serves as one of the primary organizers of the event. “We have been doing this for at least 18 years; I suspect it’s actually been more than 20 years.”
A local landowner has been especially generous to the Knights and their angling guests over the years, providing access to a lake that was more clear and pristine than one might expect given recent heavy rains across the area. Families lined the banks, and volunteers served as anglers’ assistants – baiting hooks, removing and releasing fish, and recording the number of fish caught by each angler and the overall length of catches as a way of determining the top anglers.
“This is a tournament, and we do have prizes for the top finishers,” McVey said. “But everyone will leave today with at least one prize. We are fortunate to have generous sponsors who help us with that.” McVey said the Knight also have found a way to express their gratitude to the landowner for the gracious welcome they and the families receive each year.
“It’s been more than 10 years,” McVey said, “since we saw a need the landowner had for a bridge on the back side of the lake, which would make access for anyone much more convenient.” McVey and brother Knights from Council #10257 pitched in, and the “Bridge to Friendship” became reality. “That’s what we call it,” McVey said, “because it is a bridge to friendship between the Knights and the landowner, and between our anglers, their families and everyone they come in contact with each year at the tournaments.”
McVey thanked volunteers from Knight of Columbus Auxilio Council #16454 of St. Philip Parish in Posey County and Corpus Christi in Evansville, students from Reitz Memorial High School, members of the Civitan Club of Newburgh and others who turned out for a morning of fishing and fun. The Boonville Fire Department provided EMTs, and they moved around the lake visiting with anglers and their families.
The Knights set up “cooling tents” around the lake to provide shade and places to grab some cold water, but the morning’s overcast skies provided welcome relief from the intense sun. Knights also manned a large grille, turning out fresh, hot cheeseburgers at a steady pace.
“If anyone leaves here hungry or thirsty, it’s their own fault,” McVey said with a smile. “We really enjoy this event, and the anglers and their families always seem to have a great time.”
McVey said the Knights contact area providers who serve persons with special needs across the area, and they assist in getting out the word for the tournament each year. “When I talk to people about the tournament, I always refer to our ‘kids,’” McVey said. “Our kids range in age from 5 to 75. We love all of them and look forward to welcoming them to the tournament every year.”