Annual Visually Impaired Person’s Fishing Tournament Is Biggest in the world

The Annual Lions Visually Impaired persons (VIP) Fishing Tournament is slated for October each year. The tournament, hosted by the First Flight, Manteo, Nags Head, Wanchese, Lower Currituck and the Columbia Lions clubs is the largest service project of its kind in the world.

VIPS from across North Carolina, will be joined by VIPs from Alabama, Connecticut, West Virginia, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, California, and Canada for bragging rights as a national winning angler. There will be 350 VIPs, 130 sighted guests, 300 volunteers, and about 125 high school and college student volunteers.

This event is more than a few hours of fishing. It has everything to do with people. Attendees face daily obstacles that sighted people take for granted. During the three-day independent living event participants develop self-confidence, courage, and self-esteem. Besides fishing, the VIPs learn independent living skills and get to enjoy the beauty of our community, tourist attractions, restaurants, hotels, and the fellowship of others. It provides Lions an opportunity to walk alongside the people they serve.

“Visual impairment is celebrated and not treated as a disability,” said Ron Curtis, president of the VIP Board of Directors. “All our VIPs ask for is the opportunity to be successful! We are fortunate that the Dare County community and visitors are so open and giving to this population. Without the businesses, piers, head boats, hotels and local volunteers we couldn’t provide this experience,” Walton added.

The fishing is on the Avalon, Nags Head, Jennette’s, and Kitty Hawk Fishing Piers and two head boats, the Crystal Dawn and Miss Oregon Inlet. All other events and banquets will be at the Lions Westcott Park in Manteo.

Some comments from past tournament participants include.

  • This event has changed my way of looking at life. It provides an opportunity to prove that there isn’t anything I can’t do, that is, once I put my mind to it. All I need is a chance to compete, and then watch out!
  • Do we have to eat now? The fish just started to bite.
  • Can you please hold my fish up, just a little higher, so I can see its shadow?
  • My sighted guide today, was a 15-year-old Leo from Manteo High School. She taught me how to fish again. She talked to me and actually listened to me. I was blessed!
  • The spirit of Lionism is alive in North Carolina.
  • Three women just asked to dance with me. Who should I dance with first?
  • This tournament is a must for all blind and visually impaired people. There is not a better way of getting hold of your senses. When you come to think about it, everybody is fishing blind.

In addition to fishing, VIPs will visit tourist attractions, visit with vendors, interact with an opthalmologist, hear from state officials, enjoy a Bible study and dance to the Rhondels, and also the “Out ‘N Cold band.”

“We are grateful for the support we receive from so many caring people,” Curtis said. “Lions have to raise more than $250,000 in money or in-kind services to provide this opportunity. If you would like to support this event, please contact Gwen White at 252-441-4966 for information regarding our Adopt-a -Fisherman program or the ever popular VIP Charity Golf Ball Drop of the Night for Sight Auction in April. Purchase a golf ball for $25 and if your numbered ball drops into the cup or is the closest to the hole, you will win up to $10,000 in cash,” he added. Only 1,500 balls will be sold.


Media Release
From: Gwen White, Executive Director