Qchair’s Traveler and Disability Connection with full support from the MS Charter Boat Captain’s Association and the City of Biloxi are partnering to host the First Annual Mobility Impaired Fishing Rodeo September 19-21, 2013.
While there are a few freshwater bass tournaments for those with disabilities, there are no known tournaments that are accessible for individuals with mobility issues, and especially no known tournaments specifically designed for them. The marine environment can be exclusionary by nature, but it doesn’t have to be. People with mobility issues like to fish. They want to participate in deep sea tournaments, but regular tournaments are just not set up to be inclusive. Boats by nature are exclusive to wheelchairs unless there are customized facilities and specialized training.
The Mobility Impaired Fishing Tournament will be slightly different than most fishing tournaments. To increase participation among those that might not be able to afford the somewhat large cost of a two day boat charter, the majority of boats will be individually sponsored by business or other entities, but private boats may enter. Anyone may fish, but only those with Mobility Impairments can enter the rodeo contest. The whole event will be family-friendly, with the tournament itself is open to those 13 and older. Exceptions can be made to this age limit on a case by case basis.
There will be several different divisions, such as one for quadriplegics, one for paraplegics, one for amputees, and one for other neuromuscular diseases, to provide for fair competition among the varying types of disabilities. Contestants will be matched to the appropriate boat by disability as well as boat capacity and design of fishing deck. All weigh in areas will be accessible and public, as well as a sponsor and product exhibition area. Plenty of accessible lodging is available in the area, as is parking and transportation.
Prizes will be awarded in several categories in each division. Media, Sponsors, and Contestants will be invited to a “Meet and Greet” on the Thursday prior to the start of the event on Friday. The event will be funded by corporate sponsorships and grants, and the number of individuals participating in the Fishing Rodeo is directly dependent on the number of Sponsorships. The goal for the organizers is to have sponsorships that underwrite forty sponsored boats of different sizes.