The North Carolina Lions VIP (Visually Impaired Persons) Fishing Tournament is an opportunity for blind and visually impaired people to gather on the Outer Banks for three days of recreation, fellowship, and educational workshops designed specifically with their needs in mind. The main event of the Tournament is to experience the thrill of fishing on the Outer Banks.
October 2023 marked the 40th year for the Annual Fishing Tournament for the Visually Impaired, which is largest event of its kind in North America. Over 350 VIPs competed for the State Championship and the winners of the State Championship competed a second day with VIPs from 12 other states for the National Championship. For many VIPs, this event is their first experience fishing, and it is truly a life-changing experience for them. Shrieks and cheers of excitement fill the air across the 3 fishing piers (Avalon, Nags Head and Jennette) and the two head boats (Miss Oregon Inlet II and Crystal Dawn) when fish are landed. Over 250 volunteers from Lions clubs across NC perform a host of activities; working on the piers and boats, cutting bait, untangling lines, scoring the fish, conducting independent living workshops, and preparing and serving meals throughout the 3-day event.
Those who volunteer do so expecting, in some way, to change the lives of the VIPs. However, the joy we see on the VIPs’ faces, their laughter and excitement and appreciation are etched in our hearts and minds, and we know that it is our lives that have been forever changed for the better.
“ Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see” Mark Twain