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Reeling for Autism

Beach event to raise fun, awareness, and funds

March 28, 2018
By ANITA FORCE MARSHALL ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Reeling for Autism is a unique event that gives families an opportunity to enjoy a day on Fort Myers Beach while giving others a chance to raise money and awareness of the disorder that, across a varied spectrum, affects 1 in 68 children in the United States.

"Our Reeling for Autism event offers a great venue for families who have a child with autism spectrum disorder to bring their children and enjoy a day at the beach," said David Brown, of MSW Family Initiative, Inc., "It also allows individuals and businesses in the community to learn more about autism, how to support individuals with ASD, and to help support local programs for individuals with ASD."

The second annual Reeling for Autism event kicks off with a fundraising Fishing Tournament and a free Fort Myers Beach day filled with fun.

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Everyone is invited to join in the festivities on Saturday, April 21, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., hosted by Nervous Nellies at 1131 First St., Fort Myers Beach. There will be live music, kids fishing, face painting, silent auction, 50/50 raffle, and a whole lotta things to do and see. Even better there is no fee to attend the Saturday celebration.

With the Saturday celebration there is also an all-day fishing tournament. There will be an honor start at 7:30 a.m. and the tournament will run until 4 p.m. The tournament will consist of a photo catch and release with two trout, two redfish, and, two snook (unlimited size), wade fishing is allowed. Cost is $150 per angler. Keep your eye on the prizes which are: first place is $1,500, second place is $1,000, and third place is $500.

You must attend the Captain's Dinner April 20 at 6 p.m. at Nervous Nellie's. They will provide multiple appetizers with a full menu available. Deadline to register is Friday, April 20, by 5 p.m. All for a great cause, last year's event raised more than $8,000 to support families and help children on the autism spectrum in Southwest Florida.

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"Fort Myers Beach is such a beautiful location for hosting this type of event and the Fort Myers Beach business community has been tremendously generous in support in this event," Brown said. "We have been blessed to receive such amazing support from Nervous Nellie's owner Tyler Lemmer plus sponsors: Professional Property Maintenance, Banks Engineering, and Burt Hill/Pollock Krieg Architects, Inc, and sponsorship opportunities are still available as well."

As the population of children and adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder continues to grow throughout Southwest Florida, Family Initiative, Inc., is working with ASD families to develop supports and resources for children and teens diagnosed with autism. The nonprofit offers autism play groups, art groups and parent groups. It also works with the Lee County Sheriff's Office on the ASD Band Together program, which provides ASD wristbands with identification numbers at no cost to individuals and provides training to law enforcement officers.

"Autism awareness is a cause very close to our hearts here at Nervous Nellie's, with members of our staff that are caring for children with autism, we are very aware that this cause is one that deserves much more attention," said Tyler Lemmer, owner of Nervous Nellie's. "We hope that this event brings attention to the children, parents, and families living with the challenges that autism presents."

You might be surprised by the number of families who have a loved one diagnosed on the autism spectrum. The CDC now reports one in 68 children in the US has been identified on the autism spectrum. In addition, autism occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.

"As our community continues to grow, we continue to see more individuals diagnosed with ASD," Brown said. "For those unfamiliar with autism, they are sometimes surprised to see the wide range of ability across the individuals who attend."

What a great way to spend the day for a great cause, organizers say.

"Our favorite part about the event is bringing the community together around these amazing kids and families, Brown said. "It is awesome to see some of our families come out, have fun, and do things a typical family is able to do. We also love being able to help educate our community about individuals with autism and just how special each of these kids are!"

Any anglers interested in participating in the tournament: call 239-233-5210 or email for registration details.



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