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McFlat’s Invitational Redfish Challenge to benefit Ronald McDonald House

By Staff | Aug 27, 2011

The McFlat’s Invitational Redfish Challenge is coming back to Cape Coral for the seventh year on Sept. 2 and 3 to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida.

Tim Frederic, owner and operator of seven McDonald restaurants and co-founder of the event, said the idea of the event unfolded when he went fishing with Mitch Williamson and they started talking about fishing tournaments, along with Williamson’s use of the Ronald McDonald house because his child was born early.

Frederic said his son also was born early and was in the hospital for five weeks. Although he did not have to stay at the Ronald McDonald House because he lives right next to the hospital, it really hit home of how much of a resource it is for the community, he added.

“I am so glad the Ronald McDonald House is around,” Frederic said.

Laura Ragain, executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities Southwest Florida, Inc., said the proceeds from the McFlat’s Invitational has helped tremendously over the years. The funds help them continue their mission of creating, finding and supporting programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children.

On average his family raises between $100,000 and $150,000 through a black- tie event his mother holds, a golf tournament his father holds and the fishing tournament for the Ronald McDonald House, Frederic said.

Frederic’s father was the founder of the local Ronald McDonald House.

The house, which is in walking distance from the Children’s Hospital is a home away from home for a family who has a child receiving medical treatment. Ragain said since they opened the house 15 years ago, they have helped more than 2,000 families.

“Children actually heal faster when their families are close by,” she said, adding this is why the Ronald McDonald House is important.

The house contains six private bedrooms, with a bath, that can accommodate a family of four as there are two full-size beds in each room.

Last year, the average length a family stayed at the house was 12 days. She said the majority of the families who stay at the house have babies who are in the prenatal unit, which can prolong their stay up to several months.

“No one is turned away due to the inability to pay,” Ragain said. All they request is a modest donation of $10 a night and if they cannot pay it, that is OK, too.

Carolina Franco, a Cape Coral resident, used the Ronald McDonald House for three months, Feb. 21 through May 26, while her 2-1/2 year old daughter was in the hospital due to a near drowning that took place at their home.

She said the house is a great idea because of its convenience.

“I didn’t know anything about it until I got to the hospital,” Franco said. “It is good for us because you don’t have to worry about going all the way to your house. You have everything there … any emergency is just a step away.”

In addition to convenience, Franco said there was always plenty of food for her to prepare anything she wanted for breakfast, lunch or a snack; dinner was served.

Ragain said the house has a full kitchen where the families can eat dinner every night.

“We have volunteers that come in almost every night of the week to prepare dinner,” she said. “When your child is sick nothing else matters and nothing else should. When they can come home to this house and have a home cooked meal it really means a lot to the family.”

Franco was thankful to learn about the Ronald McDonald House because the staff was very supportive and nice.

“They don’t even know you, but they are there to help you,” she said.

Her daughter is now home with her and is doing better.

“She is a survivor,” Franco said of her daughter. “She still needs a lot of therapy, but I know she will get better with time.”

In addition, there is a Ronald McDonald Care Mobile unit that provides medical and dental services to children in undeserved areas, such as parts of Collier County. The organization also has a grant and scholarship program for deserving high school seniors.

Ragain said they have helped thousands more through the care mobile unit and grant and scholarship program.

The McFlat’s Invitational event will kick off on Friday, Sept. 2, at 6 p.m. with a Rib City and Salon Captain’s dinner, along with an open bar and raffles at Tarpon Point Marina. A Texas Hold’Em Poker Tournament will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are $100 and includes dinner and drinks, along with live music.

The McFlat’s Invitational Redfish Challenge will kick off at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 3 and end at 4 p.m.

Registration for the tournament is $275 per angler prior to Aug. 28 or $325 per angler thereafter. Those who are interested can register at www.mcflatsinvitational.com.

The cash prizes for the tournament includes $7,500 for first place, $3,500 for second place, $2,500 for third place, $1,500 for fourth place and $500 for fifth and 13th place.

A kids fishing tourney with Ronald McDonald also will be held on Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon for $20. The registration fee will include a fishing rod, T-shirt, lunch and a show from Ronald McDonald.

Frederic said he is looking to have approximately 50 boats for the adult fishing tournament and 100 kids register for the fishing tournament.

Lee County Commissioner Tammy Hall and Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott are expected to be at the kids tournament to cheer them on.

A live and silent auction will be held from 5-9 p.m. on Saturday and live music from Strange Arrangement will begin at 7 p.m.

The night will end with an Outback Steakhouse Awards Banquet and open bar at Tarpon Point Marina. Tickets are $100 and it includes a raffle ticket to a Harley Davidson motorcycle, dinner and drinks.

“I am very excited to have an event that has lasted this long,” he said. “Hopefully it will be around for another 20.”

For information about the McFlat’s Invitational Redfish Challenge contact Tim Frederic at 239-822-2728 or Mitch Williamson at 239-549-3322 ext. 105.

Last year the event raised $55,000 for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida. The event had participation from more than 500 people for the fishing tournament for adults and children, a poker tournament and a silent auction.