Tourney makes ‘Pike County proud’

Published 8:06 pm Monday, May 23, 2011

Kirk Thomas, founder and CEO of Outdoors Without Limits (OWL), only needed one word to describe the 2nd Annual “Catch a Smile” Bass Fishing Tournament and “Bream Buster” event held at Campbell Plantation over the weekend. “Amazing.”

“If I were a resident of Pike County, I would be mighty proud,” Thomas said. “I was so proud to be a part of an event like this. To see the lives that it touched was heartwarming. Overwhelming, really.”

OWL is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting education and opportunity. Its goal is to educate those with disabilities about the possibilities for outdoor related opportunities while providing them the opportunity to participate in outdoor activities.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The “Catch a Smile” fishing tournament is a National OWL event and is sponsored by the Pike County OWL Chapter.

Thomas said there are no words to adequately express his appreciation to the many who worked so hard and for so long to make “Catch a Smile” such a tremendous success.

“As hosts the Campbell family opened their hearts for this tournament,” he said. “Without them, there is no way have an event like this. They make it possible.

“A huge event like this take a lot of hard, tiring work. There so much ‘behind the scenes work’ that has to be done to make this pro bass fishing tournament a success. And, I want to thank everyone who was a part of making the 2011 ‘Catch a Smile’ Bass Fishing Tournament a success.”

Thomas said special thanks are reserved for the professional anglers who participated.

“These pro anglers have rather rigid schedules and they have families but they are willing to give time to events like this,” he said. “We had 11 angles participate and each angler had a disabled person as a fishing partner.

“That, too, was heartwarming.”

Eric Netherly and his partner, Charles Adams, who is totally visually impaired, were the champion anglers.

“Greg Hackney caught the big bass at 6 pounds,” Thomas said. “The fishing was great and it was a great tournament.”

Other anglers who participated are Keith Poche, Aaron Martens, Shaw Grigsby, Pam Martin Wells, David Kilgore, Greg Vinson, Jim Hardy, J. Todd Tucker and Russ Lane fro OWL’s official spokesman Hank Parker was the event emcee.

“We had more people to participate in the Bream Buster this year and lot more people came out to watch and be there for the weigh-ins.

“We also had more people at the banquet. Those are good indicators that the tournament is growing and we believe it will get bigger and better every year.”

The Pike County OWL Chapter also hosts the annual Great Adventure OWL Deer Hunt in December. The deer hunt is also a national event.

“Because of the success of the annual OWL deer hunt here in Pike County, other states – Georgia, Florida and South Carolina – also have similar hunts,” Thomas said. “They aren’t as large but they are growing.”

Thomas said the “Catch a Smile” Bass Fishing Tournament and Bream Buster event should become model OWV fishing events.

“Pike County is where it begins and, like I said, if I lived in Pike County, I would be mighty proud.”