“We are naturally giving and like to make sure people are taken care of. Deserving people deserve good things.” – John Mitchell
With nationally televised events, competitive fishing has made its way into the mainstream. The average viewer now has a look at what fishing tournaments are all about…or do they?
While events like the Bassmaster Elite Series have prizes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and people tuning in to follow the event from around the world, the majority of fishing tournaments don’t offer life-changing rewards or even cash prizes of any size. To most competitive fishing teams and individual anglers, it’s about much more than financial gain, trophies, or publicity gained from being shown on television.
John Mitchell and John Jackson (JJ) are part of a close-knit group of friends who are also successful businessmen and avid fishermen. One evening, the group was sitting around having food and drinks while discussing what was wrong with the current structure of local fishing tournaments.
Events were poorly planned, poorly attended, and did little if anything at all for local nonprofits that were in desperate need of support. The entire group of friends all felt that there was a much better way to support anglers with a passion for giving to others who also wanted to participate in a great event.
The group worked to transform local amateur fishing tournaments into a chance for competitive friends who love being out on the water to get together and compete while raising money for a charity. After partnering with Tito’s Handmade Vodka to become their official fishing team, John and JJ created Southern Fishing Charities (SFC) along with Tito’s Market Manager Grant Portier. “We looked at how the fishing community could give back to not just the anglers and their families, but local charities that could benefit from that,” John Mitchell says. The nonprofit they created, Southern Fishing Charities, organizes events and coordinates efforts to support local charities directly with the proceeds from each tournament.
John, Grant and JJ give all of the credit for their efforts to the man who helped introduce them to Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Scott Terry, a close friend who passed away a short time ago. John states that “Scott will forever be remembered and an important part of our team.” To honor Scott and continue his legacy, they participate in an honorary walk to benefit Lauren’s Kids, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing childhood sexual abuse.
Lauren’s Kids, which provides help and support to victims and preventative measures to prevent future abuse, was chosen by the team to serve as the primary benefactor of the SFC’s 2015 season. The organization had a direct impact on Scott Terry, which allowed him to give his best to others.
Asked what drives him to pursue so many different efforts in addition to his business, John Mitchell said that it’s the ability to give back. “Personally, I feel like I’ve been very fortunate in my life to do what I’ve done and see what life has given me. Anytime you can help somebody and give somebody a fighting chance; I believe they deserve that.”
JJ said his motivation stems from channeling his competitive drive to do good for others. “Competition has driven me to do many things, and this has given me a chance to turn it into something positive that can help a lot of great people.”
This group of friends has done just that. Through the Bluewater Babes Fish for a Cure event, the Tito’s Handmade Vodka team along with the support of Tito’s Handmade Vodka recently donated a check for $15,000. The hard work they put in is worth every bit of the payoff to the team. “We will spend every day every weekend waking up at 2am until 7pm at night in 6-foot waves in the worst conditions possible to do things like that because we believe in helping people,” said John Mitchell.
The Tito’s Handmade Vodka team encourages other people to get involved, whether that means reaching out within their local community to find causes they care about or reaching out to them about Southern Fishing Charities. “Everyone should get involved. Volunteers make what we do possible,” said JJ, who stated they are always in need of help for events.
If interested in getting involved, contact John Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org or John Jackson at email@example.com. To find out more about the Tito’s Handmade Vodka Fishing Team, follow them on Facebook and southernfishingcharities.org.