The Weather was perfect, the fishing was decent and the party was epic! What more can you ask for out of a fishing tournament in late September??? Even despite a heavy rain year with water releases from the lake and spillways, anglers managed to catch all four target species: snook, tarpon, redfish and trout. And the people who chose not to fish had a great night at the Captains Reception, with the dance floor jamming till after midnight!
This year the proceeds from the Michael Shields Memorial Inshore Open went to Project LIFT, to help the sophomore charity to find and purchase a permanent location to provide Martin County’s at-risk youth with both substance counseling and vocational training. Project LIFT has a model that works! First, they get the kids’ attention and build trust by working side by side on automobiles, carpentry, screen printing, boat building and other projects. In the process, they start peeling back the layers to get to the root of where these troubled teens went wrong, and then build them back with the necessary skills to become sober, productive members of society. Project LIFT has been based out of a modest building on Monterey Road, but is looking to expand its services to more teens with a larger space that can accommodate the types of projects that the staff and volunteers take on with the kids.
The Michael Shields Tournament raised well over $50,000 (final numbers are still being tabulated) to directly benefit this cause. Its the most money that has ever been raised in the six years that the tournament has benefitted local charities. “I think people were really excited this year to benefit a charity that focuses on Martin County teens and substance abuse,” said R.J. Ferraro, Project LIFT President and Tournament Founder. “More and more people are becoming involved with Project LIFT, either through monetary donations, or volunteering to teach the kids a new skill. Most of them have a really incredible story about how they or someone close to them battled substance abuse. It really is shocking how many lives are affected by it.”
And, with over an 85% success rate, Project LIFT is quickly becoming noticed within the community. It is currently servicing more at-risk teens than any other outpatient program in the area, many at little or no cost to the family. For more info, or to get involved with Project LIFT, Click HERE