By Tamas Mondovics

In its continued effort to be an active member of the community through its support of local organizations and charities, Bass Pro Shops, located at 10501 Palm River Rd. in Brandon, kicked off its annual Gone Fishing event on National Donation Day earlier this month.

“The event’s focus is to inspire everyone, but most importantly young people, to get outside, put down their digital devices, pick up a fishing pole and discover the great outdoors,” Bass Pro Shops community relations and event coordinator, Cheryl Kehrmeyer said.

Store General Manager Ronnie Cheeks also spoke excitedly about the campaign, which he said features free activities at all Bass Pro Shops locations throughout the nation on the weekends of June 11-12 and 18-19.

“Families are invited to tour the store, to get up close and personal with all that we offer and try their hand at fishing with free catch-and-release ponds,” Cheeks said, adding that children can receive a free “First Fish” certificate. “Last year, 100,000 people caught a fish at Bass Pro Shops, many for the first time. Our mission is to inspire future generations to enjoy, love and conserve the great outdoors.”

While the store’s nationwide event involves all its 98 stores and Tracker Marine Centers across America and Canada, locally the effort provided the company an opportunity to support the Epilepsy Services Foundation (ESF), a nonprofit committed to hosting close to 16,000 children and their families in six counties locally by helping them to enjoy the great outdoors at area camps.

During a brief kickoff ceremony, which welcomed ESF of Tampa Executive Director, Thomas Orth, board member Sande Vanhook, and Elizabeth Fields with Rotary’s Camp of Tampa, the store donated 600 fishing rods and reels to ESF. The effort adds to Bass Pro Shops’ donation of 32,000 rods and reels nationwide.

Vanhook, whose 13-year-old daughter, Brittany, suffers from Grand Mal or tonic-clonic seizures, spoke passionately of all that the Brandon Bass Pro Shops, the ESF of Tampa and the local community is doing on behalf of children with epilepsy.

“We love Bass Pro Shops and they have been awesome,” Sande said.

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