Ryan McCleskey Redfish Challenge this weekend
The 7th annual Ryan McCleskey Redfish Challenge Fishing Tournament will be held this weekend at the Cape Harbour Marina to raise funds for Barbara’s Friends – The Children’s Hospital Cancer Fund.
Ryan McCleskey, a Navy diver, lost his battle against cancer at 26 years of age on Feb. 3, 2006.
His wife, Kristin McCleskey, said he was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer in 2003 while he was stationed in Hawaii. The couple moved to Maryland where they lived for almost two years, so Ryan could complete 14 cycles of chemotherapy, along with two major surgeries. Once that was completed, they decided to move back to Cape Coral, where he grew up.
“We wanted to get back closer to family,” she said.
Ryan’s cancer came back after six months of remission. Kristin said, although the Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida mainly takes care of the young, nurses and doctors were willing to take on Ryan’s illness.
Friends of Ryan decided to host the first fishing tournament once he moved back to Cape Coral in 2004 to help raise funds for the medical expenses they encountered. The night before the second fishing tournament, Ryan passed away at home with friends, family and his fishing buddies.
Kristin said she wanted to do something to give back to the community, so she decided she would continue to hold the annual tournament and donate all the proceeds to Barbara’s Friends. This year the annual event will be held on May 14.
The entry fee for the Redfish Challenge Fishing Tournament is $250 per boat, which can have up to four anglers. Kristin said anglers can sign up at the mandatory captain’s meeting Friday night, along with registering online until the day of the event.
So far, Kristin said she has 20 boats registered for the event, 12 of which are new boats in the competition.
“The word is out and the tournament is growing,” she said.
Kristin said her goal every year is to have between 25-30 boats signed up for the tournament. This year her goal is to raise $10,000, so she can hit the $50,000 mark so a room at The Children’s Hospital can be named after Ryan.
“I will do this as long as I can,” Kristin said about the annual Redfish Challenge. “It is a special place in my heart.”
The tournament begins at 7 a.m. on Saturday with a weigh-in time at 3 p.m. Food, raffles and a silent auction will take place after the tournament from 4-8 p.m.
First place winners will receive $1,000, second place will receive $750 and the third place winner will receive $500.
A mandatory captain’s meeting will be held at The Twisted Conch, 837 S.E. 47th Terrace, Friday, May 13, with check-in taking place from 5:30-6:30 p.m., food and drinks from 6-8:30 p.m. and live music from 7-9:30 p.m.
For information, contact Kristin McCleskey at 239-699-7426 or Wayne Dutton at 239-574-6950 or visit www.ryanmccleskeyredfishchallenge.com.
Almost $40,000 has been raised for Barbara’s Friends since the tournament began seven years ago.
In its 16th year, Barbara’s Friends has raised an estimated $8 million through an endowment fund that was set up for a new facility for the Pediatric Hematology/Ontology Program at the Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.