(Aug. 24, 2018) It was another record year for the Capt. Steve Harman’s Poor Girls Open fishing tournament, despite registering a few boats less than last year.
A total of 725 lady anglers fished on 149 boats during the 25th annual Open, held Aug. 16-18. A record $229,565 – an increase of about $6,600 from 2017 – was paid out to tournament winners.
But probably the most important number is the amount donated to the American Cancer Society. Event organizers presented $125,000 last year and, for 2018, they gave a check for $130,000 to representatives of the cancer organization during Sunday’s awards banquet at Harrison’s Harbor Watch at the Ocean City inlet.
“It went very well. We were very pleased to have 149 boats. It was just a really nice event,” Earl Conley, co-director of the Poor Girls Open, said. “The prize money was a record and so was the American Cancer Society check, and our sponsors really stepped up this year.
“Thank you to all the ACS volunteers, captains, mates and angers. Without them this all wouldn’t be possible,” Conley added.
The mantra for the 25th annual Open was “March to a Million” and the goal was accomplished. Since 2005, the total donated to the American Cancer Society by the Harman family through the tournament and other events has reached $1,000,060, according to Shawn Harman, owner of Fish Tales and Bahia Marina and co-director of the tournament.
“It’s an honor to help so many fight this terrible disease,” he said. “It’s the survivors and the community that make our tournament successful.”
Mary Bellis, senior community development manager, Northeast Region, for the American Cancer Society Inc., was on hand for the tournament activities and weigh-ins at Fish Tales and attended the awards banquet.
“There was never any doubt that the ‘March to a Million’ would be exceeded,” Bellis said. “This family takes this cause seriously and their commitment is translated to the hard work that guarantees success.”
This was her first year as the American Cancer Society staff partner for the Poor Girls Open.
“It has been amazing to see the dedication and creativity of the Harman family and their entire team that has put on this popular event for 25 years,” she said. “The planning and the work that goes into this first-class tournament is what keeps the anglers coming back year after year. The Pink Ribbon volunteers are a committed group of women, many of whom have been a part of these activities for decades.”
Bellis said it was fun to meet new volunteers and get to know the veterans better.
“One of the best aspects of the experience was hearing the stories of anglers, captains and spectators,” she said. “Many are survivors or are participating in honor or memory of loved ones. They are generously supporting the funding of breast cancer research that will change the future.”
Absolut Pleasure took first place in the tournament, releasing 12 white marlins. The crew won $120,965. Junior angler Rilyn Romero released three of the team’s whites. She was presented $1,000.
Reel Chaos came in second place in the billfish release division with eight whites. The team earned $29,379. Pumpin’ Hard anglers released seven whites and were awarded $19,586.
Brittany Grove landed the heaviest dolphin of the tournament – a 36.3-pounder – while fishing on Bent Tent. The fish was worth $15,270.
Buckshot angler Lindsay Stanton reeled in a 32.9-pound dolphin, good for second place and $8,262.
Tasha Davis-Lockart boated a 20.7-pound dolphin while fishing on Bent Tent. The team received an additional $5,508.
Nancy Kohl’s 112-pound tuna took over the top spot in the division. She and her A Salt Weapon III teammates were presented $14,797.50 for the fish. Kohl donated her share of the winnings to the American Cancer Society.
Heather Bean of the Whiskey Kilo hooked a 73-pound tuna and won $7,978.50. Megan McDonald caught a 66.3-pound tuna aboard Spring Mix II to finish in third place. The group took home $4,869.
Lucy Muhlenbruck landed the only wahoo of the tournament – a 30.2-pounder – while fishing on Blood Money. The team did not enter the wahoo added entry-level calcutta, but still received $1,500 for the first-place fish. The wahoo calcutta money was divided up between the tuna and dolphin divisions.
Winners were also presented fish trophies, carved out of wood by Florida artist Ramay Lewis.
“The awards luncheon was exciting and the quality of the event was evident with the presentation of beautiful carved wooden fish from a Florida artist to top anglers,” Bellis said. “Another notable characteristic of this tournament is the community involvement that Shawn Harman is able to cultivate. The support of the local businesses and sponsors contributes to the success of the fundraising.”
Throughout the weigh-ins at Fish Tales on 22nd Street, bayside, and during the awards banquet, tickets were sold for a 50/50 raffle. Melanie Dvorak, who fished on the boat Double J, won the 50/50 raffle. She donated her $3,820 winnings back to the cancer organization.
George Kalwa created an original painting of women fishing, which was auctioned off. Ryan J. Freese of the boat, A Salt Weapon III, and his wife, Monica Steffie-Freese, had the winning bid of $2,150, which will also go to American Cancer Society.
In 2004, the tournament was renamed to honor the founder of the event, the late Capt. Steve Harman.
He and his wife, Pam, started the Poor Girls Open in 1994 to provide women with an opportunity to compete for prizes and money in a ladies-only tournament, and to raise money for local charities. Harman died in February 2004, so organizers thought it was appropriate the tournament be renamed in his memory.
Women enjoy fishing in the tournament because it benefits a worthy cause — breast cancer research. Proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society and earmarked for breast cancer research and program development as part of the “Pink Ribbon Classic at the Beach Series” – an assortment of local activities to raise breast cancer awareness while garnering money for the organization.
“The funds donated will support the American Cancer Society breast cancer programs,” Bellis said. “This includes funding research, providing programs and services for breast cancer patients and their caregivers, community education about prevention, screening and early detection. The Harman family is making an impact on the future.”
The Open is the first event of the Pink Ribbon Classic at the Beach Series. Other events this year include a card game and party; mahjong and golf tournaments; Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K walk and run; pickleball round robin and clinic; and the Pamper Yourself For Charity Raffle.
For more information and to register for events, visit www.pinkribbonclassicevents.org.
Most of the events will take place in October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The Pink Ribbon Classic Series was started in 1996 by a group of volunteers. Since its inception, the series has raised about $3.4 million for breast cancer research, awareness, programs and services.
Some of the local programs and services available in this area include free wigs for patients; Road to Recovery, which connects local drivers with patients to transport them to and from treatment; and the Look Good Feel Better program available at Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin and Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, which teaches patients how to cope with the cosmetic side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
There is also the Hope Lodge, which provides lodging during treatment; Cancer Survivors Network available at www.cancer.org, a 24-hour-a-day cancer information center; and 1-800-227-2345 for patients to access ACS services.
In addition, resources for caregivers, information on screening and prevention, and referral to local, regional and national outlets is available.
For more information about the Poor Girls Open, call Bahia Marina at 410-289-7438. To learn more about the American Cancer Society, visit www.cancer.org or call 1-800-227-2345.