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Brown’s AC, Baker Dist. Co., ICP, LG and Venstar Join Forces to Help Pediatric Cancer Foundation

Brown’s AC, of Auburndale, FL, Baker Distributing Company, ICP, LG and Venstar joined together this year to sponsor a team in the 14th Annual Phil Pegley Blacktip Shark Shootout fishing tournament presented by Graham Capital. Fishing in the waters of Tampa Bay commenced at 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 8, 2019 and ended at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 9th, 2019 with a weigh-in, awards ceremony and charity auction at the Sunset Grill at Little Harbor Resort, Ruskin, FL.

Clayton Keene Jr. (l.) won the Junior Division with a 62.5” blacktip, shown with James Brown of Brown’s AC .Clayton Keene Jr. (l.) won the Junior Division with a 62.5” blacktip, shown with James Brown of Brown’s AC.
Clayton Keene Jr. (l.) won the Junior Division with a 62.5” blacktip, shown with James Brown of Brown’s AC .Clayton Keene Jr. (l.) won the Junior Division with a 62.5” blacktip, shown with James Brown of Brown’s AC.

The $47,000 raised this year beat last year’s total by $7,000. All of the proceeds from the tournament benefited the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Sponsors once again donated a significant array of raffle prizes including a large Yeti cooler, a Kite three way fishing rod holder, a t7900 Venstar ColorTouch t-stat, a Heineken beach umbrella, a framed hand painted picture by a local artist that does the G-Fin clothing artwork, lots of goodies from Anheuser Busch and more.

The weather was cooperative until around 10:30pm Saturday night when the boats were called back to port due to a nasty thunderstorm. Sunday morning was beautiful and the day was nice, though very hot. A 67-inch shark placed 1st in the adult division while a 62.5-inch catch claimed 1st place in the Youth Division. The Brown’s AC team finished fourth out of nearly 30 entries with a 52-inch blacktip this year. “We brought in around 25 to 30 catch and release blacktips,” T.J. Uhrich explained. “We also reeled in a 12′ hammerhead within range of the boat to see him before cutting him loose. That is a LARGE animal and we were not getting it close to inside the boat!” Over 700 blacktips were caught and released during the tournament.

When he was 15, Brown’s AC owner James Brown suffered what he thought was a torn shoulder muscle while moving trees around the nursery where he worked part-time. It turned out to be an aggressive cancer growing in that area. He received chemotherapy and radiation treatments that the doctors believed were completely successful. A year later he felt a familiar pain in the same area as the cancer reappeared, even more aggressively. Doctors at the Moffit Cancer Center in Tampa removed the entire muscle on his shoulder and prescribed more chemotherapy and radiation. He weighed less than 90 pounds by the time the doctors proclaimed him to be cancer-free. His own experience and what he witnessed while fighting the cancer instilled a desire to help other children. James learned about the Blacktip Shark Tournament and met Captain Phil Pegley through the Make a Wish Foundation and has been a supporter and promoter of the event for years.

“James has never forgotten those that helped him in his battle with cancer or how he felt watching those kids go through similar experiences,” stated T.J. Uhrich, Lakeland Sales Center Manager for Baker Distributing Company, which is a ICP, LG and Venstar distributor. “He overcame some tremendous physical challenges on his way to becoming a successful HVAC/R contractor and I am very happy to have him as a friend and customer. I thank him and our sponsors for giving us the opportunity to participate in this event.”

The Blacktip Shark Shootout, a catch-and-release tournament, participates in the Mote Center for Shark Research shark tagging program to help understand the biology of these important predators and develop science-based management plans for their rational utilization as a marine resource. According to program director Dr. Robert E. Hueter, the blacktip sharks are more resilient and faster reproducing than most species, and a relatively abundant and not overfished shark of Tampa Bay.

With its national headquarters in Tampa, the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding research to eliminate childhood cancer. Their focus is to fund research to find less toxic, more targeted therapies by partnering with leading hospitals nationwide.

Find out more about the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation on their website: Https://nationalpcf.org/.

Visit www.blacktipsharkshootout.com to learn more about the tournament.