On assignment for Chesapeake Bay Magazine (, and thanks to the wonderful folks at the Casey Cares Foundation (, a group dedicated to providing the families of kids facing serious health challenges with a variety of unique programs, experiences, and opportunities, I was privileged to spend last Friday out on the bay for an exceedingly worthy cause.

For me, the best part of the Third Annual Casey Cares Rockfish Tournament was making friends with nine-year old Bailey Lightner, her parents, Ben and Betty, and their friends, Bernie Caplan and Jessica Cearfoss.

0Jessica Cearfoss, Betty, Bailey & Ben Lightner; Bernie Caplan

Bailey, a basketball and movie fan who enjoys photography and horseback riding, was born with Diamond-Blackfan anemia, a rare bone marrow disorder.

And not to give too much away here, but she is also a heck of a fisherwoman

Our captain for the day was Mike Sadler of Southern Belle charters ( The Southern Belle  leaves right out of Kent Islands’ Kentmoor Marina ( and enters some of the Chesapeake’s most fertile fishing grounds in no time at all. Captain Mike is an Eastern Shore native and a third generation waterman, with over 40 years’ experience.

00 (2)Capt. Mike Sadler, Bailey & Ben Lightner

Friday evening’s Captain’s Party with tournament awards, cocktails, dinner, live music, and a prize auction featuring a professional auctioneer, was held at The Inn at Chesapeake Bay Beach Club (, an favorite.

Casey Cares, based throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and portions of the Midwest, focuses on uplifting the spirits of entire families coping with extraordinary circumstances, and on helping those families navigate the tricky waters of a formidable childhood illness. One of their primary goals is to provide those families with “little moments and lasting memories.”

Read more and see some great photos in an upcoming issue of Chesapeake Bay Magazine.               


Here’s how you can help Casey Cares:

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