Make a Difference Fishing Tournament Inc. is a 501(C) 3 nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children with disabilities through fishing tournaments and other programs that facilitate involvement in marine education and recreation.
In 1996, a group of entrepreneurs and their families from Clearwater, Florida were inspired to provide a day of fishing to kids with disabilities. They presented their idea to the city of Clearwater to make Pier 60 the "kickoff" event site for the first Make a Difference Fishing Tournament for special needs children.
With the help of donations, equipment and supplies, food and financial support from the local community Make Difference Fishing Tournament hosted their first successful tournament with 58 kids.
The founders along with their families continue to support the fishing tournaments over the next twenty years.
In 2002, the interest and number of participants in Make a Difference Fishing Tournament had grown. Make a Difference Fishing Tournament and the city of Clearwater host two annual tournaments at Pier 60, Clearwater Beach, Florida. The kid’s tournament (anglers under the age of 18) is held the first Saturday in October. The adult tournament (anglers over the age of 18) is in September.
In 2005, the Make a Difference Fishing Tournament started a grant program, which funded grants totaling over $400,000. The grants provide aid to families and children with special needs. Our grant program provides assistance and items that can help children with their special needs.
April 2006, the city fathers of Largo opened the Central Park Nature Preserve to Make a Difference Fishing to host our first Largo Kid's Tournament. Over several years, this venue grew to accommodate over 100 special anglers and their families. In 2017, we moved to a new location on the lake at the Highland Recreational Complex in Largo, Florida.
A day at the nature preserve is more then just fishing. Kids and their families can stroll around the 31 acres park surrounded by water. The wetland marsh is home to over 130 species of birds, otters, red fox, alligators, rabbits and even wild turkeys. Over 40 interpretive displays educate visitors on wildlife at the park, which further supports our efforts, to facilitate disabled kids involvement with marine education and recreation. At the end of our tournaments prizes are awarded for the fish caught and EVERY child walks away with a smile.
October 2010, Make a Difference Fishing Tournament and Waverly Woods Timber Plantation hosted their first tournament in Waverly, Georgia. Giving kids the opportunity to enjoy a fun day of fishing, games and awards. Thanks to Waverly Woods Timber Plantation and the volunteers who helped make this event special for the kids. The Waverly Woods Tournament is held annually in October.
In 2016, Make a Difference Fishing Tournament accommodated over 2000+ special needs participants in our annual fishing tournaments.
The Make a Difference Fishing Tournament organization continues to evolve with the growing support of the community, volunteers, on-going partners and sponsors that allow us to organize more fishing tournaments, marine education and other programs to facilitate special needs kids throughout Florida and beyond.
Both the Make a Difference Fishing Tournament Board of Directors and its support group are comprised of a staff that is 100% volunteer based. All board members, staff, and volunteers donate their time freely. All proceeds are applied toward the operation of Make a Difference Fishing Tournaments and other charity programs for special needs children.
How You Can Make a Difference
There are many ways you can help feel free to contact us or chose an option below.