Orlando Pelaez has been smiling all week after he was named the overall winner of the Fourth Annual Kids' Fishing Tournament held June 14 at Mirror Lakes in Lehigh Acres. He was top winner because he won the most fish eight in all.
He was one of some 40 youngsters who attended the annual event which has grown each year since it began 2011. It is being sponsored by the Florida Lung & Sleep Associates at 2625 Lee Blvd. Including the kids, there were more than 80 people at the event.
"We enjoy seeing out kids in the community enjoying themselves and having fun and this year was even better than last," said Dina El-Gendy, a member of the family medical practice operated by her father, Dr. Alaa El-Gendy, a well-known lung specialist and sleep therapist who has specialized in critical care medicine in Lehigh Acres for years.
Orlando Palaez caught the most fish at the tournament.
"We started the fishing tournament at 8 a.m. and it ran to 1 p.m. and the weather couldn't have been better," Dina El-Gendy said.
"It was in the 80s and there were clouds so it kept the hot weather from not being so bad. We were lucky too, that we didn't have any rain."
The El-Gendys have been sponsoring the fishing event in an effort to raise awareness of lung disease and sleep problems in the area. The family also bring awareness to the Chest Institute, which was set up for research for lung disease and help those who aren't covered with insurance or can't pay their bills to receive help.
Dina El-Gendy admitted that she is not a fisherman or "fisherwoman" herself, but really enjoyed watching the kids scream with delight when they caught a fish.
"Everyone was having so much fun that even the fathers of the kids were fishing, too. It was just a big fun time for everyone," she laughed.
She said the tourney had hardly started that with 10 minutes, one of the children caught his first fish.
All the fish caught by the kids were measured and weighed for the record by Ahmed El-Gendy, last year's honorary mayor in Lehigh, and volunteer Dan Royal.
She said that she had purchased 10 big cans of worms as bait for the kids to use.
"We were having a hard time keeping up with the kids that were catching fish, Ahmed said.
Each of the children was given a fishing pole and tackle and bait and when the tournament was over, they could take their fishing pole home.
"Nothing's more fun for a kid than fishing," said Ahmed El-Gendy. Even Dr. El-Gendy was there, without his official medical attire, but in slacks and an official T-shirt with the tournament's logo on it, enjoying the event. He also participated in the official presentation of a plaque given to Orlando Pelaez for the most fish caught.
The El-Gendys said it was because of the efforts of the many sponsors that they were able to pull the fishing tournament off. They included:
Firms as Edward Jones, Ace Hardware Medi Weightloss Clinic, Wallace Family Practice, Ruffneck Fishin Tackle, West Florida Eyecare, State Farm, Goodlad Insurance Agency; Radiology Regional, Griffin Premier Property Services, Dan Royal Insurance LLC, Reliance Bank, Riverdale Dental Associates, LA Insurance and Paulie the Pool Guy
The overall winners were in addition to Orlando Pelaez for catching eight fish, the most caught; Claire Mccolgin, ugliest Fish Award, a "gator gar," Cameron Salmon, largest fish award, a 17.5 inch bass; Avanni Howard, the smallest fish award which was five inches in length.
All winners received a certificate and other prizes.
All the participants received a prize, too, according to Dina El-Gindy. She said they received a "big bag of goodie" filled with all types of things including a water bottle, coloring book with crayons and more.
Lunch was also provided to all who came to the tournament.
Dina El-Gendy said Dan Royal, owner of the insurance company that bears his name, volunteered his time to help the kids with the tournament and raffled off prizes for the kids.
She said Cindy Dodd, manager of Reliance Bank and active Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce member, volunteered her time, too. Her son, Ross and his dad helped set up the children with their fishing poles.
"It was great to see some of the kids who had participated before from 2012 and 2013 coming back," El-Gendy said.
"All we can say is a big thank you to all the sponsors who donated toward the event. They helped make it what it is."
"We're going to continue next year with another fishing tournament and every year, more children and their parents turn out. It's something our medical people enjoy doing. It's really for those kids who had a lot of fun," she said.
There was a $25 participation fee to help the lung institute.
For more photos of the tourney, go online at: www.facebook.com/floridalung. If you were at the tournament and took photos, you can add yours online, too.