Casting for a Cause

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By Jane Bartnett

The second annual Casting for the Kids fishing tournament, held to raise funds in support of local families whose children are battling pediatric cancer, will take place Sept. 24 and 25.

The event benefits the Sarasota-based Dancing with Clayton Foundation, a non-profit corporation founded in memory of 3-year-old Clayton Van Landuyt. At the age of 1, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma and passed away just two months shy of his fourth birthday.

From left, fathers Matt Rebhan, Ben Shroyer, and Matt Van Landuyt at last year’s event. The three teamed up to organize Casting for the Kids. (submitted photo)

Last year’s fishing tournament raised $25,000 in funds that were distributed by the foundation to 12 area families whose children were fighting cancer. 

“It’s financially crippling,” said Matt Rebhan, co-owner of Alpine Steakhouse, who lost his baby son Logan to infant leukemia at 18 months of age in March 2020.

Matt Van Landuyt relates.

“We know firsthand that when a family is going through this and when their child is being treated for cancer, parents don’t always know how they’re going to pay their bills,” he said. “We help them to cover some of those bills and remove that stress.”

The two men, along with Ben Shroyer, met in the pediatric oncology floor of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. All three had children who were being treated for pediatric cancer. Shroyer’s daughter Hannah is continuing her treatments at Hopkins.

The trio discovered that they were neighbors in Sarasota and bonded through their children. Last year, they launched the annual fishing tournament as a way of honoring their sons and daughter while helping other families with children who are also facing cancer.

Spurred on by the success of last year’s tournament, in which 22 boats competed, they set a goal of 50 boats for the 2021 event.

“Last year,” said Van Landuyt, “we had 400 people at The Point in Osprey on Saturday afternoon. We’re hoping for more, and this year some of the families that we helped during the last 12 months will also be there with us.”

This year’s Casting for the Kids Fishing tournament event will kick off with a captain’s meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Friday evening, Sept. 24, at Alpine Steakhouse, 4520 S. Tamiami Tr.

The meeting is mandatory for all captains. Team members are also encouraged and welcome to attend. Boat registrations will be accepted from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and a group meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. Tournament fishing hours will begin at the conclusion of the meeting and run through 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26.

Community support for the event has been strong. (submitted photo)

On the Saturday, the public is invited to attend the final events that begin at noon at The Point, 135 Bayview Drive, Osprey. A kids’ dock-side fishing tournament, live entertainment, refreshments, raffle and auction items, as well as food and beer from three local Sarasota breweries will be available.

A memory tent with photos of children who have lost their fight with pediatric cancer during the past year will pay tribute to them and their families. Tournament winners will be announced at 4:30 p.m. 

“We’re very grateful to our sponsors who are making this possible,” said Rebhan.

Van Landuyt concurred.

“We thank our Saturday host, The Point, as well as Alpine Steakhouse for hosting Friday night’s captain’s meeting.

“We also thank the legendary sportscaster Dick Vitale, whom we hope to have with us on that Saturday, for creating a YouTube video about our event. Sponsorship opportunities are available and we welcome raffle items as well as financial contributions.”

“We’re grateful to our brewery partners Big Top Brewery, Brew Life and Calusa Brewery, as well as our media partner ABC7 Sarasota, who will air a public service announcement about the tournament on their station as they did last year.

The entry fee for the Casting for the Kids tournament is $125 per angler or $400 per vessel, with four participating anglers on-board. An additional fee of $50 per person will be charged for boats with up to six people. A full 100% of funds raised will benefit local families who are struggling to care for a child with cancer.

All entry fees and donations are tax deductible through the Dancing with Clayton Foundation, a 301(c)(3) organization.

The Danger Ranger fishing team captured last year’s top prize. (submitted photo)

A first prize of $2,000 will be awarded along with monetary prizes for the longest snook, redfish, trout and mangrove snapper in the “Slam” category. Calcutta prizes will be awarded for the total length of up to three redfish, snook and trout. Photos of all fish must be submitted to tournament organizers no later than 3 p.m. on Saturday.

For information on sponsorship opportunities, to volunteer, and to sign up to participate, visit the foundation on Facebook or at DancingwithClayton.com.

To learn more, send an email to: Castingforthekids@gmail.com

Pre-registration can be submitted by email with the captain’s name, team name and names of the anglers on the boat to: Castingforthekids@gmail.com.

On-site registration for the competition will take place at the captain’s meeting. Credit cards, checks and cash will be accepted.

Jane Bartnett
Author: Jane Bartnett

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