From the very first tournament in 2003, the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic has been committed to giving back—to the sport as well as the Panhandle communities that surround the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, the host facility. With a brace of new records set this year, including 85 teams and $1,952,270 in cash prizes—both historic highs—the tournament was again able to make significant gifts to its designated charities for the 2016 season.
The top recipient was the Sandestin Foundation for Kids, a non-profit established by the owners of the resort to provide funds and assistance for needy children and their families during tragedies. All the retail sales proceeds during the ECBC are earmarked for the foundation. This year more than $25,000 was raised from T-shirts, apparel and other tournament merchandise during the week-long event.
Harvest House, a local food bank, now has more than $17,000 in its account, also thanks to this year’s ECBC. Donated tournament-caught fish are sold, with the funds used to provide meals for the area’s less-fortunate. Reel Life International, a volunteer group that helps build schools, health clinics and other vital facilities in Third-World countries, is another benefactor of the tournament and its generous anglers.
The tournament gives back to the sport too. The Billfish Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to research, conservation and advocacy on behalf of billfish, held a raffle which raised $2,500 for its education and tagging programs. Adrienne Katz is a Science and Policy Associate for TBF who sold tickets and interacted with teams throughout the week.
“We’re very grateful to the ECBC team for the continued opportunity to be a part of the tournament each year,” Katz says. “We’re a small but mighty group and with the support of conservation-minded tournaments that are not only a source of recreation but also scientific data, we are able to keep working to achieve our goals.”
So in addition to world-class competition and the highest stakes on the Gulf Coast circuit, the Classic also has an important philanthropic agenda.
“We had another great event this year, so I’m very pleased we were able to help out our favorite charities,” says ECBC Tournament Director Adam Alfonso. “None of that would be possible without the generous spirit of our participating teams. Charity indeed begins right on the docks and as we grow, we’ll be able to give back even more to our local community.”