Local Fundraising Group Fishing for Friends Establishes Physical Therapist Assistant Scholarship at OCtech

Photo of Fishing for Friends giving scholarship donation to OCtech
Fishing for Friends board members are joined by representatives from OCtech as they present a check to fund a scholarship for a student enrolled in the Physical Therapist Assistant program.  From left, Lynn Fralix, OCtech PTA Program Coordinator, Faith McCurry, Executive Director of OCtech Foundation, Linda McGannon, OCtech Foundation Scholarship Committee Chair, and Fishing for Friends board members Mark Murphy, Timmy Judy, Dawn Pooser, Walt Pooser, and Celeste Zeigler.

The Physical Therapist Assistant program at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College has received a major boost from one of Orangeburg County’s most prolific fundraising organizations.

Fishing for Friends – which, since 2006, has collected and donated nearly $450,000 to some 60 families of special needs children in Orangeburg, Calhoun and Bamberg counties – has established a full scholarship for a PTA student whose goal is to work with “special needs children and children with special needs.”

“We were trying to think of different ways the money raised through the generosity of our community could better assist children and their families for a longer period of time,” said Timmy Judy, a member of the Fishing for Friends board of directors. “Helping a Physical Therapist Assistant student receive their education so that they can work with and help special needs children will help a lot more families in the long run.”

Board member Mark Murphy said while monetary donations are worthwhile and assist individual families in getting out of debt for a few months, “this student can help children for the 30 or 40 years of their career. Whether it’s a child born with special needs or a child who has suffered a broken leg and needs therapy to help them walk, this student is going to help us see our future grow.”

“This scholarship will go a long way in helping a deserving PTA student achieve their career goal without having to worry about how they will financially reach that goal,” said Faith McCurry, executive director of the OCtech Foundation, which will administer the scholarship. “We are extremely grateful to Fishing for Friends for this generous scholarship and know it will be a tremendous help to a student.”

Fishing for Friends has focused on assisting special needs children and their families since the beginning, when the winner of the group’s first small fishing tournament decided to donate his $500 winnings to a special needs child.

“The next year, we decided to do hold the tournament again, but this time, we got sponsors for our T-shirts and raised $1,500,” Judy said. “The third year, we raised $10,000. And it has just grown from there.”

Nearly 700 people attended last year’s Fishing for Friends Banquet at the Cinema. Since the 2016 banquet, the group has raised and distributed some $91,000 to 17 families. The 12th annual banquet is set for 6 p.m. Friday, March 3 at the Govindbhai Patel Community Center, 1175 Five Chop Road, in Orangeburg.

Tickets are $50 per person in advance and $60 at the door, and can be purchased at Murphy’s Auto Glass, Woody’s Pawn Shop, Johnson’s Marine, Dog Food Center and Black River Marine, as well as from any board member.

Among the highlights of the evening is a live auction featuring one-of-a-kind handmade crafts, vacation homes for rent, sportsman gear and other unique items. Hudson Classic Catering will serve shrimp and grits, pan-seared tuna, bacon-wrapped chicken bites and more.

“The success of this organization would not be possible without the generous contributions of local business owners and all of our supporters,” Murphy said. “Because of their generosity, we are able to help local families in financial need and now, students who will help those families and their children with physical needs.”

For more information about the new OCtech PTA scholarship, call 803-535-1230 or email mccurryf@octech.edu. For more information about Fishing for Friends, visit the group’s page on Facebook.