OISFT Supports Ocracoke’s Non-Profits

Sundae Horn
OISFT Supports Ocracoke’s            Non-Profits

Giving away money is fun.

Recently, I got to ride around with Woody Billings as he handed out checks from the Ocracoke Invitational Surf Fishing Tournament. In just a few stops, we distributed almost ten grand to Ocracoke’s deserving non-profits.

2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the OISFT, and they’re giving away more money than ever before.

First on the list was the Fire Hall where Ocracoke volunteer fireman Dick Jacoby was waiting to meet us.

“Their check is smaller this year,” Woody said of the $500 he was handing over. “For years the tournament gave the biggest amount to the fire department, but they’ve got other ways to raise money now, so we’re spreading it out more on the island.”

OISFT Supports Ocracoke’s            Non-Profits

If Dick was disappointed in the smaller handout this year, he didn’t show it as he thanked Woody profusely. In fact, he said, OVFD has raised over one million dollars since 2007, and he appreciates the years of support from OISFT.

“It’s great the way everyone’s helped to get the building started for the new fire hall,” he said. 

Next we headed out to meet Vince O’Neal and Bob Chestnut, representatives of the Ocracoke Youth Center. Woody dropped off a check for $2500 to help with the building of the Ocracoke Community Park.

“The fishing tournament is a great event for the island,” Bob said. “They’ve been a longtime supporter of OYC and this donation is very timely help for our ball field project.”

Jennifer Daniels is the director of Ocracoke Child Care. She expressed her thanks that OISFT came through with a $3500 donation just when OCC needed it most.

OISFT Supports Ocracoke’s            Non-Profits

“We appreciate their annual contributions,” she said. “This year we spent the majority to fix the heating and air conditioning. We had to replace the compressor in the outside unit.”

Woody and I stopped by the WOVV annual meeting to drop off another check to station manager Clayton Gaskill and WOVV board president Greg Honeycutt. Our local, listener-supported radio station promotes the fishing tournament with live coverage from out at the beach. Tune in this May 1st, 2nd, and 3rd at 90.1FM or listen online at wovv.org to find out what's being reeled in. 

Ocracoke School principal Laura Kelly was happy to accept the annual scholarship money for the island’s college-bound students. Two hardworking seniors will each receive a $500 Sigma Willis Memorial Scholarship at graduation.

OISFT also donated $1000 to the Ocracoke Athletics Boosters Club, and still has $500 left for another good cause to be determined.

OISFT Supports Ocracoke’s            Non-Profits

“This year we’re giving away 10K,” Woody said. “This is the most money we’ve ever given out.”

OISFT gets its money from the $420 entry fee per team, and from selling ads in the tournament's souvenir program. They also rake in the dough from merchandise sales – OISFT hats, tees and hoodies are always in style.

For the past 20 years, Woody has been the head judge for OISFT. He also serves as co-chairman, treasurer, and as a member of the tournament rules committee. Richard Perkins is the other half of the co-chair team. Woody’s wife, Terri Billings. is the secretary. Other surf-fishing fans from on and off the island serve on the OISFT Board of Directors including Pattie Johnson-Plyler, Alan Sutton, Corky Pentz, Dave Frum, Bill Gilbert, Rae Eley, Marissa Gross, Sharon Miller, Gail Kowalski, and Jude Wheeler. The OISFT board meets 4 or 5 times a year to plan the event and decide how to share the wealth. 

OISFT Supports Ocracoke’s            Non-Profits

Woody’s happy about the positive impact the tournament has had on the community. Although OISFT might have started out with a reputation as a bunch of rowdy fishermen coming to the island to party, over the years it’s matured into a fun-loving, but responsible group.

“We bring business in the off-season, and most people come and spend the whole week,” he said. And, perhaps more importantly, they invite the entire community to their celebratory pig pickin’ at the tournament’s end.

The invitational tournament involves the same 70 teams almost every year, and another 50 teams are hoping to get asked.

“We might lose one team a year,” said Woody. “So I tell people we have a fifty-year waiting list.”

Even if you can't compete in the tournament, everyone’s welcome to party with fishermen:

The Rondelles will play on opening night at Howard’s Pub starting at 8pm.

On Friday, May 3rd, the community is invited to a big BBQ dinner brought to the island by Hank Edwards and crew from Williamston, NC. It all starts at 5:30pm at the Community Center. Dancing and D.J. will follow. No fools, no fun!



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