When his son was born premature eight years ago, and his family benefitted from a close stay to the NICU at the Ronald McDonald House at HealthPark, Mitch Williamson knew he wanted to do something to support the worthwhile charity.
His son, Mitch Williamson IV is now doing phenomenally well, he reports.
He and fellow angler Tim Frederick, who owns many local McDonald's franchises, came up with the idea of a charity fishing tournament for both adults and children to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida, along with the Municipal Cape Coral Charter School Foundation.
The tournament over the last seven years has raised more than $360,000 for the McDonald's charity.
For the children, Ronald McDonald is a big part of the fun.
"Ronald McDonald himself shows up on a boat and has lunch with the kids on the dock," Williamson said.
If You Go
What: The Flat's Invitational Redfish Challenge 2012 Adult and Kid's Tournaments
When: Saturday, Sept. 1
Adults: Shotgun Start beginning at 7:30 a.m., weigh-in 4 p.m., Marina at Cape Harbour
Children: 10 a.m. to noon, dockside at Rumrunners
Cost and information: Registration required; Adults: $275, call 634-3521 or visit mcflatsinvitational.com; Children: Ages 5 - 12, $20, call 848-5646 or Venture Out Charters 945-2031.
The eighth annual Flat's Invitational Redfish Challenge 2012 will be held on Saturday, Sept. 1 at at the Marina at Cape Harbour. First prize for adults is $7,500.
Every child leaves a winner, he said. "They get a trophy and a T-shirt from Ronald McDonald."
They started the Kids Tourney five years ago and the children truly enjoy it.
"We also have Cape Coral First United Methodist Church volunteers bait hooks, help take fish off and keep the kids safe," he said.
The tourney is for children 5 to 12. They will have lunch from noon to 1 p.m. with Ronald. The cost for children is $20 and they must be pre-registered. The tournament itself runs from 10 a.m. to noon, dockside at Rumrunners.
For adults, it is $750, also with pre-registration, both which will be taken up to Friday, Aug. 31. For adults it will be a Shotgun Start beginning at 7:30 a.m., weigh-in 4 p.m. at the Marina at Cape Harbour
"It's always a great turnout," said Glenda Swager, event manager at Cape Harbour. "The kids are always excited to see Ronald come in on The Rumrunner."
The tournaments are only one part of the overall event.
There also is an auction, Captains Dinner pre-event, a Harley raffle and an after party Texas Hold'em Poker Tournament and live music that day.
A kickoff party was held Friday, Aug. 24 at the Joint, and tickets for the Harley Raffle are now on sale there as well as at Rumrunners.
"There are only 250 tickets at $100 per ticket, and includes dinner Saturday night," Williamson said.
Silent Auctions and door prizes will be Saturday from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., with a live auction beginning at 8:30 p.m.
"We have a bunch of great stuff this year for the auction, donated by community members. That includes vacation rentals including a 7-night stay with fishing in Los Seunos, Costa Rica, a stand up tool chest from Home Depot and even a newborn puppy from Pet Kingdom of Fort Myers, and a great deal more."
The Captains Meeting to be held Friday, Aug. 31, will be held in the air conditioned boathouse; check-in is 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The Captains Dinner is 5:30 p.m. to 8:30pm with an open bar and raffle.
"Rumrunners is kicking it up with an after party Texas Hold'em Poker Tournament" and Live Music."
The Awards Banquet will be from 5 to 10 p.m. next Saturday in the boathouse at the Marina at Cape Harbour.
Appetizers will be provided by Bonefish Grille and Surf & Turf dinner catered by Outback Steakhouse.
"Then stroll over to the Joint for the "After Party"
Details can be found on flatsinvitational.com.
For registration for adults, call Williamson at 634-3521 or go to mcflatsinvitational.com.
For children call Josh Deving at 848-5646 or Venture Out Charters at 945-2031.