Ocean City Fishing Trip Benefits Families With Disabilities

Kaden Ireland, of Galloway Township, holds his impressive catch, along with his uncle, Jimmy Neithardt, of Absecon.

By MADDY VITALE

Kaden Ireland, from Galloway Township, is not a professional fisherman. He doesn’t even fish much.

But on Sunday, as he stepped out of a boat, the 13-year-old proudly displayed what has become the envy of even seasoned anglers – a 21-inch flounder caught on a fishing trip with the kind clearance from Ocean City Yacht Club and Ocean City. Marlin & Tuna Club.

Kaden and his uncle, Jimmy Neithardt, of Absecon, were among 115 people from 40 families, some of whom have physical, mental or learning disabilities or financial challenges, for an enjoyable day on the water.

“It was fun. I got to see new things,” Kaden said with a smile.

Then he showed off his impressive shot for all to see, while people took his picture.

“It was his first time going locally to the bay,” Neithardt said of Kaden’s fishing trip. “We had a good time.”

Assistant Fire Chief Charlie Bowman helps pull a boat.

Now in its 29th year, the fishing event brings families together and gives some kids a new experience and love of water and fishing.

Organizations assembled for the release included the Challenge League of Philadelphia, the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern New Jersey, and the Variety Club of Philadelphia. Members of the Ocean City Fire and Police Department were on hand to make sure everyone unloaded safely.

Some of the families were on a boat for the very first time. A total of 25 boats participated on Sunday.

“We caught two flounders and a rainbowfish,” Daniel Brown, 22, of Lehighton, Pa., enthused. “We even caught a shark which we discarded.”

Daniel Brown, blue shirt, with mum, Gail Sacelaris, poses for a photo after docking.

Brown’s mother, Gail Sacelaris, said the family had a wonderful time.

“I didn’t know the Variety Club (of Philadelphia) was doing that. We went camping and doing other activities, but not on the fishing trip,” she said. “We would do that again.”

Some dignitaries were in attendance, including Mayor Jay Gillian and First Ward Councilman Terry Crowley Jr.

“It’s spectacular,” Gillian said of the event. “That’s what Ocean City is. It brings so much joy.

Ocean City Yacht Club Commodore Baron Schlachter and his wife, Shauna, who is Commodore of the OC Marlin & Tuna Club, said the event continues to grow.

“We are delighted that the number of participating families is increasing again. It’s not the biggest, but it’s going back to how it was before the pandemic,” Baron noted.

Ocean City Yacht Club Commodore Baron Schlachter and his wife, Shauna, who is Commodore of the OC Marlin & Tuna Club, watch the boats enter.

Shauna described the community and club members volunteering for the event: “Everyone came out to help today. Families are happy. There was little wind, the fish were out and the water was great.

After the fishing trip, Bill McGinnity, a chef who is in charge of food at the yacht club, provided meals for the guests.

Doug Walters, a member of the Ocean City Yacht Club and former commodore, helps organize land operations for the fishing trip each year as co-chair of the event.

Each year George Robinson and Brian Logue, both of the OC Marlin & Tuna Club, work together on the event.

Robinson, co-chairman of the event, who lives in Florida and owns a vacation home in Ocean City, has been in charge of running the water portion of the event for 20 years.

Left to right, Sonya and Brian Logue, Mike Logue and George Robinson, share a lighthearted moment.

One of the participants was in a wheelchair. He was on Robinson’s boat.

“I’ve been doing this event for over 20 years and it’s one of the best things. It’s a special day. Our family that we brought out had a boy in a wheelchair,” he said. “He was in the moment and he loved the rocking of the boat. It brought out the best in him.

Logue, a boat captain who lives in Ocean City, enjoys helping out with the event every year. “My job today is really to play boat traffic controller,” he said.

Logue added: “One of my favorite things is seeing the reactions of the kids when they come back from fishing.”

Mayor Jay Gillian stands in the middle of a group photo with the people who helped make the event possible. (Photo courtesy of Jen Bowman)

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