LARGO — Area nonprofits that focus on helping children and adults with special needs are preparing to produce plenty of smiles in the coming weeks in Largo.
The organizations — Make A Difference Fishing Tournament Inc., Help Us Gather and Special Olympics-Pinellas — will each hold separate events that seek to provide fun and fulfillment in very different ways.
Make a Difference Fishing Tournament
The free tournament will be held Saturday, April 6, from 8 a.m. to noon, at Highland Lake behind Highland Recreation Complex.
This tournament, which offers a fun day of fishing for children and adults with disabilities, will provide free food and drinks and an award ceremony.
For more than 20 years, Make A Difference Fishing Tournament has grown to accommodate thousands of special needs participants in four annual fishing tournaments in Florida and Georgia.
Every angler that attends a tournament receives free fishing gear, including a rod and reel, tackle and bait.
To register, visit makeadifferencefishing.com.
Beyond Incredible fashion event
Beyond Incredible, a free fashion event to celebrate exceptional men and women with disabilities, will be presented Saturday, April 6, 5 to 8 p.m., at St. Paul United Methodist Church, 1199 S. Highland Ave., Largo.
All individuals with special needs aged 12 and older are invited to attend with up to two guests.
This event is organized by Help Us Gather, a local nonprofit with the mission to connect people with disabilities to social events.
More than 250 people will dress up and gather at the church. Guests with special needs will be pampered with hair, makeup, jewelry, accessories and more before walking a red carpet and taking photographs with local beauty queens.
Four individuals with special needs will be honored for their exceptional contributions to the community. The honor comes with the title of Charitable, Powerful, Fearless or Inspirational. HUG also books celebrity appearances in Tampa Bay for each of its title holders. Last year’s appearances included a live TV interview, receiving an “Honorary Deputy” title from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and a special appearance at Julie Weintraub’s Denim and Diamonds fundraiser, benefitting Hands Across the Bay.
“We hold this glamorous gala each year because we understand how important it is for people of all abilities to experience special events,” said Robin Lally, founder of the nonprofit, in a press release. “I am so inspired by the men and women I meet through HUG. These incredible people have accomplishments that HUG wants to both celebrate and share with the community.”
For information, visit www.helpusgather.org.
David Haines Memorial Footgolf Tournament
The David Haines Memorial Footgolf Tournament benefiting the Pinellas Chapter of Special Olympics will be held Saturday, April 13, at the Largo Municipal Golf Course, 12500 Vonn Road.
Registration for the event, which substitutes soccer balls for golf balls, will run from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Play will begin at 10 a.m. and continue for the nine-hole course until noon, but participants may complete the 18-hole course.
Prizes, however, will be awarded on scores from nine holes only.
Lunch will be available for purchase in the golf course clubhouse and water will be furnished throughout the tournament.
Cost is $20 per player and $20 per “virtual” player for those wishing to contribute but not actually play. Each entry fee includes nine holes and an opportunity to win prizes. Each paid entry also sponsors a Special Olympics athlete to participate in the tournament at no cost to the athlete.
An adult must accompany players aged 13 and younger. No cleats will be allowed on the course. Players may bring their own regulation size 5 soccer ball or one will be provided. A silent auction will be conducted throughout the tournament and each player will receive a swag bag. Opportunities to purchase tickets to win other prizes will be available during the event.
Registration may be completed online at specialolympicsflorida.org/pinellas/foot-golf-scramble. For more information, contact Cydni Weiner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The tournament has been named in honor of David Haines, who passed away in November 2017. He was the Special Olympics Pinellas County director from 2000-2017 and was beloved by athletes, coaches, parents and colleagues. He began his special education career as a teacher at both Countryside High School and Tyrone Middle School, and was inducted into the Special Olympics Florida Hall of Fame in March 2017.