Time is running out to sign up for the 10th Annual Ryan McCleskey Redfish Challenge.
The tournament will take place Saturday, May 24, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Marina at Cape Harbour. The cost is $250 per boat, with up to four anglers. Each team may weigh in two redfish, and all of the fish must be released alive, out of the bin. The winners are determined based on the combined weight of two fish.
"It's a great tournament. It's an inexpensive tournament," Kristin McCleskey, the widow of Ryan McCleskey, said Tuesday. "We have a great time."
There will be an awards ceremony at the marina following the event. The first place team will take home $1,500, second place will earn $750, third place will get $500 and fourth will win $250.
"We encourage people to come down and watch the weigh in," she said.
There will be live music, along with a raffle drawing and silent auction. Some of the auction items are a two-night stay at the South Seas Island Resort, an eight-day trip to Cuba, jewelry items and art work.
If You Go:
What: 10th Annual Ryan McCleskey Redfish Challenge
When: May 24
from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Marina at Cape Harbour, 5828 Cape Harbour Drive
Why: To raise funds for Barbara's Friends, the Golisano Children's Hospital Cancer Fund
"They're all donated," McCleskey said of the items up for bid.
A captain's meeting will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday, May 23, at the Twisted Conch. Check-in runs from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., followed by food and drinks. There will be live music and a raffle drawing.
The captain's meeting is the last time teams can register for the event.
Last year, 48 boats signed up to participate and more than $15,000 was raised. Proceeds from the tourney benefit Barbara's Friends, the Golisano Children's Hospital Cancer Fund.
"It's to raise money for the children's hospital that's in our own backyard," McCleskey said.
Since its inception, the event has raised more than $80,000.
"This year we have committed to raising $20,000," she said. "Our goal is to hit 50 boats."
As of Tuesday, about 26 teams had registered to take part.
Ryan McCleskey's battle with cancer ended Feb. 3, 2006. The objective of the annual event is to assist the children of Southwest Florida in their personal battles by helping to raise funds for Barbara's Friends and to build awareness in the community for the Lee Memorial Health System Foundation.
McCleskey explained that the first tourney helped with medical expenses and showed support.
"Ryan was an avid fisherman," she said.
After her husband passed away, the family decided to continue the event as a way to give back.
"He was a patient there at the hospital," McCleskey said.
This year's tourney will also honor Chase Johnson, 8, who died on March 2 from T-cell leukemia. Grace for Chase was founded in his memory with the goal of raising awareness of childhood cancer.
"We've kind of made them our honorary charity," she said. "It's a partnership."
McCleskey noted that the groups connected through mutual friends.
"We just figured there was an outpouring of support in the community for both," she said.
Organizers are still accepting sponsorships for the tournament.
For more information on becoming a sponsor or to sign up a team for the Ryan McCleskey Redfish Challenge, visit: www.ryansredfishchallenge.com or call Kristin McCleskey at (239) 699-7426.
The Marina at Cape Harbour is at 5828 Cape Harbour Drive.
The Twisted Conch is at 837 S.E. 47th Terrace.