Santee Blind Fishing Event
An Unforgettable Experience
For over 30 years the blind and visually impaired have looked with eager anticipation to a special experience: the Santee Blind Fishing Event. Now managed by LVS, this memorable weekend is an all-inclusive over-night trip to Lake Marion including hotel accommodations, transportation, 3 meals, fishing supplies, and lake access by shore or boat for registered attendees who are blind or visually impaired and their caregivers.
For participants the Santee Blind Fishing Event is more than a weekend on the lake, it is an exciting change to a sometimes mundane routine and a chance to meet new people or reconnect with friends.
This event is the result of our shared commitment to improving vision health for all South Carolinians and to creating a healthier world where the blind and visually impaired know no limits. The event is open to any blind or visually impaired person (and their caregiver) in South Carolina. LVS is currently only able to provide transportation assistance from the Charleston area to the event.
The dates for the 2024 Santee Blind Fishing Event are April 26-27, 2024. You can pledge your support now with Sponsorship Forms, which are available. Please check back regularly for updates.
2023 Event Recap
LVS celebrated Earth Day 2023 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: Jim Jackson of Richland County (45 points)
V.I.P. Fisher of the Year: Christian and Gwen Ladson
As the overall winner of the Tournament, Jim 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!
Thank you to the patrons who generously support this special event.
Past Tournament Winners
The winner of the Santee Blind Fishing Event receives a sponsorship from LVS to attend the International V.I.P. Fishing Tournament at the Outer Banks.
2023: Jim Jackson, Richland County
2022: Lucas Cain, Charleston County
V.I.P. Fisher of the Year
The V.I.P. Fisher of the Year is a special award given based on sportsmanship, character, attitude, and service. It embodies the ethos of the event.
2023: Christian and Gwen Ladson
2022: Rita Williams
An International Tournament
The North Carolina Lions VIP Fishing Tournament is the largest gathering of visually impaired in North Carolina and is believed to be the largest event of its kind in the world. The project has grown from a local tournament serving 12 blind individuals to more than 350 visually impaired persons, 130 sighted guests, and 300 volunteers.
The project brings participants from across North Carolina and around the globe together for three days of recreation, fellowship, and independent living workshops designed to help visually impaired persons (VIPs). Participants arrive on the Outer Banks on a Monday, are housed in local hotels, have meals, go fishing on two head boats and four ocean fishing piers for a day of recreation, participate in seminars and independent living training, and visit with vendors. The winners of state tournaments around the country participate in an International Tournament on Wednesday. The closing awards banquet on Wednesday offers motivation and awards. More than 300 volunteers follow the same schedule as they assist the VIPs throughout the annual event.
Only 13 individuals ranked to compete in the National Tournament last year. Lucas Cain represented South Carolina and completed with peers from North Carolina, Rhode Island, Virginia, New York, Connecticut, and Canada. Rodney Turner from Gaston County, North Carolina won the National Tournament with 65 points and also won the North Carolina State Tournament this year. The largest fish caught was a 16” Sea Mullet from Jennette’s Pier.
LVS sponsors the winner of the Santee Blind Fishing Event to compete in this International Tournament. Last year LVS staff and 5 Lions Club volunteers from South Carolina volunteered at the event.