Special Olympics kids get a day out fishing in Venice

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SARASOTA COUNTY - Venice area organizations, businesses, police and boat captains hosted a fishing tournament Thursday, and for the dozens of Special Olympic athletes participating, it was a trip they won't soon forget.

Some hit the Marine Max dock, others cast off, heading out on boats like the Blue Dolphin for a fun day of fishing.  Dozens of volunteers and the athletes took part in the 11th annual Special Olympics Handicap Fishing Tournament, all put together by the Venice Police Department.

"This is something they don't get to do on a regular basis or maybe never except for this one time a year," says Officer Paul Joyce.

Danielle Ouellette was excited. "Being on the boat, catching fish, being with my friends."

"It's just awesome the smile on their face."  Eddie Toomer of Captain Eddie's Fishing Charters is one of the many local captains volunteering his time and boat. "It is absolutely incredible. Words can't express what I feel towards these kids."

At the end of the day, other Venice organizations and businesses pitched in -- a $1,000 check from the Venice Club, sandwiches from Obee's...a community-wide effort for those who ended up catching a lot of fish and a lot friends too. "It really shows how much they appreciate these athletes and how much they want to help. It really honestly brings a tear to me," says Joyce.

The tournament kicks off the annual Shark's Tooth Festival in Venice, which runs Friday through Sunday with proceeds going to the Special Olympics.