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Fishing tournament raises funds for local Ronald McDonald house

By Staff | Sep 8, 2009

The day was muggy, and the fish were not biting, but that did little to quell the excitement of some young anglers at Saturday’s McFlats fishing tournament.
Officially called the “McFlats Invitational Snook and Redfish Challenge”, this McDonald’s sponsored event had a little something for everyone.
While the big-boy fishermen took to the water at dawn to hunt for snook and redfish, kids took to the docks of Tarpon Point Marina to try their hand at landing a big one of their own.
All proceeds go to help the Ronald McDonald House of Southwest Florida.
Based at Health Park in South Fort Myers, the local Ronald McDonald house, like the 280 worldwide locations, provides a haven for families whose children are undergoing treatment at nearby hospitals.
Executive Director Debra Newman said fund raisers like the fishing tournament were crucial to the organization. Like many non-profits throughout the county, the Ronald McDonald House has had difficulty raising money during the recession, even with their corporate recognition.
“This is extremely important,” Newman said. “Not only to raise money, to also raise awareness for what we do.”
The Ronald McDonald House of Southwest Florida sponsors four major programs.
Along with the functions of the house itself, there is also a Care Mobile, which offers mobile dental care in Collier County, a scholarship program, and an Autism Screening program, which will be offered through the Care Mobile.
Newman said last year’s McFlats fishing tournament raised roughly $18,000 for the Ronald McDonald House.
While she’s hoping this year’s event matches, or even exceeds that total, she thinks the event does speak to the community as a whole, adding that you’re never far from someone who has a “Ronald McDonald House story”.
“It’s well attended by people who do feel close to our cause,” she said. “And it really shows the relationship between the owner-operators, our area and our beloved Ronald McDonald House.”
Held at Cape Harbour last year, organizers decided to move things to Tarpon Point in 2009.
Captain Kelly Tolbert helped to organize the transition. He praised the Ronald McDonald House organization and all of their efforts.
“These guys have done a great job,” Tolbert said of the event. “My job was to make things as smooth as possible. It was easy. And it’s a great cause.”