Don Ledford Automotives and professional fisherman Tom Helton hope to reel in the cash for Family Promise of Bradley County through the first Miracle of Sharing Bass Tournament.
The event will take place Saturday, April 19, at the Dayton Boat Dock. Participants will launch off at 6:45 a.m. First place will receive $4,000 from a total payout of $8,500.
Helton explained the benefit is a product of his sponsorship from Don Ledford Automotives. Debbie Melton, general manager and partner of the local business, told Helton he would need to volunteer his time and service for a good cause. The two agreed on a fishing tournament to benefit a local nonprofit.
Melton suggested Family Promise.
Helton jumped into the necessary preparation alongside friend Kirk Gardner and DLA programmer analyst Kyle Johnson. The three recruited sponsors and launched the website. They soon realized they missed a key step.
No one had contacted Family Promise about the event.
Executive Director Eva VanHook said the call from Johnson could not have come at a better time.
“We are not really used to other people putting on events for us. This is a whole new territory. It is really kind of nice,” VanHook said. “I know the planning must be insane. There are a lot of pieces to this.”
She said the Family Promise crew was excited to receive the random phone call.
Two Big Bass Hour events will be sponsored throughout the day by Flowers Bakery of Cleveland, LLC. A winner will be selected at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. They will be awarded $250 each. Anyone who wishes to participate in this portion of the event must pay a $10 fee.
Registration for the event will take place the week leading up to the competition at Don Ledford Automotives on North Lee Highway. The entry fee for each boat is $100 with an additional fee of $25 for those who wait April 19.
The Bass Federation Kids Casting Competition will begin at 1 p.m. and continue until 3. According to the event’s official website, the competition might be the first time a child is introduced to the “great sport of fishing.”
Participants of the TBF Kids Casting competition will be separated between age groups 7 to 11 and 12 to 15. Each participant will receive a certificate. A trophy will be given to the winner of each age group.
Organizers request sponsors step up to purchase or donate prizes for the participants.
Helton, Gardner and Johnson agreed the local nonprofit is a good fit for the fishing tournament.
According to Helton, a majority of the benefit tournaments support organizations involved in cancer research. He said the Miracle of Sharing event is one of a kind since it benefits a nonprofit dedicated to addressing family homelessness.
Gardner, who is an employee at Flowers Bakery of Cleveland, LLC, said his boss jumped on board to sponsor the event.
“It is a unique opportunity. It is different from what is out there right now,” Gardner said. “What really impressed me about it was I put up a volunteer list at work...and I had 10 people sign up.”
Family Promise addresses the problem of family homelessness through a 13-week program. Parents and caregivers spend their days either working or at the day center learning everything from parenting skills to financial lessons. Once the parent or caregiver gains employment, a majority of each paycheck is set aside for a downpayment on a place of residence and first month’s rent.
Nights are spent at host churches, of which there are currently 10 in Bradley County.
Johnson said the effects of Family Promise can be seen throughout the community.
“It is local. It affects the people you work with, and you may not know it. It affects the people you might see at the grocery store,” he said. “[Homelessness] is a big problem all over the place, but here specifically.”
VanHook said participants must be serious about the program.
“We are after a specific group,” she said. “They have to be motivated. They have to know how to change and be willing to learn how to change.”
More information on the bass tournament (including the tournament rule book) and Family Promise can be found at www.miracleofsharing.com.