Today LVS celebrated Earth Day with over 50 blind and visually impaired clients and their caregivers during the annual Santee Blind Fishing Event on Lake Marion. Attendees and volunteers came from 11 counties throughout the state, a new record for the event. More than 150 individuals were a part of this two-day event which began with a group dinner at Santee Cooper Country Club on Friday evening and ended with the Fishing Tournament Awards Ceremony at Camp Bob Cooper on Saturday afternoon.
Buses picked up clients in Charleston and Goose Creek, bringing guests to the Hampton Inn and Fairfield Inn and Suites in Santee. This year many clients came from Aiken and Richland Counties as well.
An armada of nearly 20 boats – all volunteering their time, vessel, and fuel – from the Wyboo Creek community, Georgetown, and Kingstree took participants out on the water for Saturday’s tournament. Nearly a dozen clients fished from various docks near the shoreline. This year the event was held at Camp Bob Cooper for the first time. Camp staff and facilities provided a welcoming, friendly, and comfortable environment for all guests to enjoy.
A variety of fish species including Bluegill, Redear, Catfish, and White Bass were caught by participants. Each catch was scored with an official Tournament Card from SCDNR and assigned a point value based on a variety of factors including prevalence of the species and level of skill required to catch.
This year’s awards included:
Most Unique Catch: Stephanie Love (an unexpected turtle, which was safely released!)
Biggest Catch: Kimberly Taylor (>16″ catfish)
3rd Place: Pathronda Anderson of Richland County (41 points)
2nd Place: Stephanie Love of Charleston County (43 points)
1st Place: Henry Jackson of Richland County (45 points)
V.I.P. Fisher of the Year: Christian and Gwen Ladson
As the overall winner of the Tournament, Henry Jackson is the recipient of a sponsorship from LVS to attend the North Carolina Lions VIP Fishing Tournament in the fall along the Outer Banks.
Costs for this year’s event surpassed $20,000, and included an unexpected $2,000 increase due to a necessary last-minute change in venue that was not anticipated. Your philanthropic support can help defray the costs of next year’s Tournament. Give online or text “blindfishing” to 44321. It costs roughly $250 to sponsor one blind or visually impaired person’s expenses for the weekend.
We could not have done this event without extensive help from volunteers, whose names are too numerous to mention. However, we would like to especially thank the Manning Lions Club and the Lions Clubs of Zone 2 in District 32-C for taking a leadership role in this year’s event. Thank you all!
The tentative dates for the 2024 Santee Blind Fishing Event are April 12-13, 2024. Sponsorship forms are now available. Please check back regularly for updates.