The winners crowd, smiles all around.

The only spirits flying higher than many at the NE Bash, October 20th, were possibly those of the pilots of the Blue Angels flying a few hundred feet above. In an event that brought so much together: a tournament, music, food, a party, fundraiser, and an air show, it was possible to miss the point of the event. But, when you saw John Wood, Drew Wood’s dad, hold up Drew’s older brother to say thanks to the crowd, there was no missing the point of the weekend. We were there helping out one of “ours.”

John Wood (Drew’s father) holding up Drew’s brother while addressing the crowd. Danny Engle, left, holding up a picture of Drew.

On June 14th, four-year old Andrew Wood was wrestling on the living room floor with his older brother and little sister when his parents noticed a strange pattern of small bruises on his back. One day later, Andrew’s parents sat with Drew in a fifth floor room of Wolfson Children’s Hospital as the pediatric oncologist delivered the diagnosis that is every parent’s worst nightmare. Little Drew Wood was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. With that news, normal life for the Wood family ended and their fight against cancer began. Andrew’s treatment plan includes nearly four years of chemotherapy treatments, numerous spinal taps, and a routine of hospital stays. Through all this, Drew rarely stops smiling while his mom and dad remain grateful for the many compassionate people who continue to extend their prayers and provide for the needs that arise during such a difficult time.

Kyle Beinkowski (left) and Chris Cenci (right), first place winners of the inshore division.

Rick Ryals summed up the weekend well, “Fishermen have always, and will always, come together for a good time, and a great cause. The Florida Sportsman Northeast Florida Bash was all about fishermen who interact daily on line, getting to sit down, share a beer, and go compete against each other for some great prizes. It was truly a great party with a fishing tournament attached to it. The Northeast Forum has always had great bashes, but bringing in Costa Del Mar, Simms, and Yeti certainly pushed it over the top.”

The St. Augustine based “Seaweed Band” made an appearance and provided the bash with good tunes.

“For a first year event, the 140 tournament registrations while in this market and with some of the other things going on, is huge,” commented Brian Reed of Beach Marine. Both Rick Ryals and Dave Gill feel that the stage is built, literally, for much bigger Bash’s in the future. “Sometimes it just takes getting the first event off the ground in order to build for the future and after the success this event, there’s no doubt we’ve got something special in the works,” remarked Dave. “I can’t wait to hand Drew and his family a big fat check.”

Dave Gill (kajo) will be the first person to deflect credit for the success of the Bash, but if it weren’t for his tireless work the Bash wouldn’t have happened. In fact, the Bash was a family undertaking for David and his wife Michel, who personally made over 150 sandwiches for the Captains meeting. When I asked why Michel made the sandwiches or why David built the stage for the band, instead of buying or renting, the answer was given quickly and easily, “it meant more money for Drew.”

But, Dave wouldn’t let me write this unless I thanked everyone else, including sponsors Costa Del Mar and Simms. David posted his thanks to his crew on the Forum, I’d like to re-post it here:

“Tony the weigh master, Brian Dufek who computerized us, Anthony Edmonton who put in a crazy amount of time Friday and Saturday, pillingjunky for spending the night Friday and making sure no one stole any of our stuff, Kevin who kept the beer flowing! Wade and the crew for building the stage platform and the guys that helped on set up day, that was a long day! Paul Dozier for letting us use (or not use because no offshore fish weighted in) the scale. Tony (black pearl), Greg and his wife Debbie (captainstable), Menzies and family, Dominick and Caroline Trullo, Captain Brian Reid Dock Master, The Seaweed Band for entertaining us, Captain Chris Herrera for feeding us! Captains BBQ rocks! Ian McCook at Breaking Point Audio for giving us music till the band got there. I know I am missing some people, no disrespect intended. Every single one of you were vital to this successful event and Florida Sportsman thanks you!”

Dave went on to say:

“We raised a ton of money for Drew! Thanks to Danny Engle, the raffle items, and all the fine folks that donated prizes and their time. The final number will take a little time to figure because money is still coming in and there are still shirts to sell. I am confident in saying that we as a community truly helped the Wood family tremendously and had fun doing it. I was proud to be a part of this event and thank Florida Sportsman for trusting me with the keys to the building!”

Click here to go to the official results forum thread.

*Click on the photos below to enlarge.

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