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North Carolina Visually Impaired Persons Fishing Tournament Executive Director Gwen White Speaks to Edenton Lions 

When you see the Lions Club logo, do you think, “largest fishing tournament of its kind in the world?”  I never did; but that changed on July 11th, when North Carolina Lion VIP (Visually Impaired Persons) Fishing Tournament Executive Director, Gwen White, shared the history and evolution of this unique event.

The NC VIP Fishing Tournament started thirty-nine years ago, with twelve visually impaired persons in attendance. That number has grown to 350 VIPs, 130 guests, and three hundred volunteers. This year, the event will be held at The Outer Banks on October 17th, 18th, and 19th.

Lions Clubs have long been leaders in blindness prevention and care for those with visual impairments. North Carolina Lions, specifically clubs from Columbia, First Flight, Lower Currituck, Manteo, Nags Head, Plymouth, and Wanchese counties, took that mission to the next level with the creation of the not-for-profit organization, The NC Lions VIP Fishing Tournament, Inc.

This is not your run-of-the-mill fishing tournament. The goal is to provide an annual three-day event for educational, recreational, and personal growth opportunities for as many of North Carolina’s 30,000 visually impaired community members as possible.

Most North Carolinians are quite familiar with fishing and all that it entails. But for those without sight, or with limited sight, all things fishing may be out of reach. This event provides an opportunity for VIPs to be in a group where the visually impaired are the majority and the sighted are the minority, to have a complete fishing experience with their peer group, and to engage in a catch and release fishing tournament—what a unique experience!

But, as the Lions say, it is not just about the fishing! This event focuses on independent living and provides educational sessions on life skills, quality of living, and new products and services. There is dancing, bible study, and a variety of tours and workshops.

North Carolina Lions Incorporated supports the project every year. Last year’s proceeds totaled $15,000. This support is made possible by sponsorships, fund raisers (like the Adopt-a-Fisherman Program, Golf Ball Drop, and annual Night for Sight auction), and charitable contributions. Event expenses can exceed $250,000. During her presentation to the Edenton Lions Club, Gwen extended an opportunity for Edenton Lions to become sponsors of one of the event’s lunches. The Lions all voted in the positive.

Anyone can volunteer, contribute, or be a winner of the Lions VIP Charity $10,000 Golf Ball Drop. Your skills may not lend themselves to the sport of fishing, but can you pack a lunch? Serve a meal? Clean up? Walk with VIPs? The tournament needs you!

To find out more about volunteering, contributing, or being part of the Lions VIP Charity Golf Ball Drop, visit the website, www.ncvipfishing.org, or call (252) 441-4966.

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