Fifty teams participated in the 10th annual David Lee Root Jr. Memorial Fishing Tournament at D&D Bait and Tackle Saturday, which included 148 anglers and six youngsters.
Debbie Root said they have kept the registration fee at $50 over the years because they wanted to keep the tournament as family oriented as they could with the backyard atmosphere feel. She said the more people they attract, the bigger the tournament will become, which will raise more money for the Trauma Center.
"It's a win-win for everyone," Root said.
Kyle Knight and Kyle Petrick claim first prize, $1,500, during the 10th annual David Lee Root Jr. Memorial Fishing Tournament.
She said she is very excited the tournament draws as many anglers as it does because it is for a great cause, a cause that sits near and dear to her heart.
"I want to thank the people that sit on the committee for all of their support," Root said. "They kept it going."
Debbie and Dave Root lost their son, David Jr., in a car accident in 2001 on Pine Island, which lead to the first tournament that benefited the fire department. Almost exactly a year later, their son Dustin was in a car accident in Punta Gorda and was flown to the Trauma Center at Lee Memorial Hospital for immediate treatment.
Since the Trauma Center saved their son's life, they wanted to give something back, which changed the benefactor of the fishing tournament from the fire department to the Trauma Center.
Before the event Saturday, the fishing tournament had raised $109, 935 in nine years for the Trauma Center at Lee Memorial.
Lee Memorial Health System Foundation Director of Development Duane Higgins said the money that has been raised during the tournament has gone toward a family waiting room in David Lee Root Jr.s name for trauma patients. He said the Roots wanted to create a nicer, more comfortable room for the families.
In addition, the money raised, Higgins said, has also gone into a restricted account for the trauma doctors when they need certain equipment for the Trauma Center.
Higgins said the most important thing is they want the fishermen to have a good time and have fun while fishing in the tournament.
Syndi Bultman, who works with the Trauma Center's injury prevention program, also attended the event Saturday to help serve the food once the anglers returned for the weigh-in. She said she goes out into the community to prevent individuals from going to the Trauma Center by educating them on various topics from driving to youth violence, as well as going to high risk, low income areas.
The driving program that Bultman conducts targets 15 to 21-year-olds during a three-hour program that includes their parents. She said she shows images of people, a crash and the consequences.
During the third quarter alone, Bultman said they educated 604,000 people. Bultman and her partner are contacted by members of the community to talk to youngsters.
The tournament attracted a good amount of families and friends who wanted to spend the day catching, photographing and releasing their snook, redfish, trout, as well as the mystery fish - flounder.
Bubba Huether was among the many teams Saturday that participated in the tournament. He said this year marked either the third or fourth time he had fished the event.
Huether said he enjoys the tournament because of the fishing, as well as the chance to have a great time out on the boat with his family. This year his team included five members, four of which were family members.
His team caught all four fish.
"It is a great cause," Huether said about the tournament benefitting the Trauma Center. "We love it and appreciate what they do."
The Trauma Center, which opened in July 1994, serves all of Southwest Florida - Lee County, the populated western half of Collier County, Glades County, all of Charlotte County and portions of Highland County. The other two closest trauma centers are in Tampa and Miami.
A first-time participant of the tournament, Jack Moore, fished on land near the back of D&D Tackle and Bait Saturday. Although he caught 15 catfish, one snapper and one sheepshead, he said he still had a good time even though he did not catch any of the fish needed for the tournament.
"I almost caught a snook," Moore said smiling.
A newspaper article caught his attention, so he decided to sign up for the tournament.
"I think it was for a good cause," he said. "I didn't care if I caught anything or not."
Moore said he wants to attend the David Lee Root Jr. Memorial Fishing Tournament again next year.
Randy Roy, who has fished the tournament the last couple of years, and Dennis Morgan, who has fished the tournament the last seven or eight years, also took part in Saturday's event.
Morgan said he likes fishing the tournament because the registration fee is reasonable and it's for a good cause.
"We stop here and get stuff all the time," he said of D&D Bait and Tackle. "It's a good tournament and for a good cause."
The team caught snook, redfish and trout.
The winners of the tournament include 1st place winners Going Coastal, who won $1,500; 2nd place Type II, who won $1,000; 3rd place Black Cloud, who won $700; 4th place Snook Daddy, who won $500; 5th place Olde Fish House, who won $300; 6th place Greennorns, who won $200, 7th place Cade T&T, who won $200; 8th place Beans and Rice, who won $200; 9th place Blackwater Bandits, who won $200 and 10th place Liquid Speed, who won $200.
The flounder mystery fish winner was On Your Neck 17, who won $250 and youth Jeffery Johnson who won $150.
Root said the mystery fish prize was made possible by Water Medic and the 1st through 10th place winner's cash prizes were made possible due to a donation made by Sam Galloway.
"Sam Galloway was my biggest sponsor," Root said, adding that his donation allowed her to be able to give it right back to the fishermen for their cash prizes.
The cash prize for the youth division came from 100 percent of the entry fees to enter the tournament.