Fishing for Family
By Sarah Steele Wilson
Aug 28, 2012, 11:27
photo by Sarah Steele Wilson Anglers Travis West and Jon Dodson hold up the winning fish at the “Fishing for Trevor “ tournament on Saturday.
“The fishing community is a very small and tight community, and when one family is in need, we all try to rally together to help them,” said Steve Camp as he stood on the shores of the Appomattox River at Hopewell’s City Marina on Saturday afternoon.
Camp, who emceed a special bass fishing tournament for the Fishers of Men organization on Saturday, had seen his words proven by the actions of area fishers, who braved pouring rain and occasional claps of thunder to participate in a benefit tournament for Dinwiddie couple Erica and Jason Chaplin.
“It’s a benefit tournament ... for the Chaplin family, who lost their two-and-a-half-year-old son back on Aug. 2,” explained Keith Estes, a family friend and coworker of Jason Chaplin who organized the tournament along with other family friends.
Estes said they wanted to do something to honor Trevor Chaplin, who loved to fish, and to help the family pay for the medical bills that accumulated during his nine week stay at MCV. Since Estes had fished with Trevor’s grandfather, father and the toddler himself, a fishing tournament seemed like a natural choice.
“It’s overwhelming,” said Erica Chaplin, as 40 boats returned from a day of bass fishing.
“It feels good to see the people come out here and support us,” said Jason, who had joined family and friends on the water.
The couple are expecting a second son, Hunter, soon.
Since Trevor loved to fish, the tournament was also a way to honor his life.
“He loved fishing and he carried his fishing pole around with him everywhere he went,” said his aunt Courtney Chaplin, clad in a shirt with a picture of her nephew.
She said the community support put a silver lining on a terrible tragedy.
photo by Sarah Steele Wilson Erica and Jason Chaplin teared up when Steve Camp presented them with a plaque memorializing their son Trevor and the tournament held in his honor.
“It’s great that people can come here and show their support for us. It’s really nice and it means a lot. Even though the weather didn’t cooperate with us, it really does mean a lot to help try and raise as much money for them as we can,” she said. “We really love him, and always will, and it’s really great to do an event like this. Even though it’s something that makes you so sad, it kind of brings some happiness out of all of it.”
Many other fisher men and women who didn’t know the Chaplins personally joined the family and friends because they were able to sympathize with their loss.
“I just saw a flyer and said why not?” said Curtis Combs, who drove from Mechanicsville to participate because he wanted to do what he could to help the family.
Tournament winners Jon Dodson and Travis West, who donated their prize to the Chaplin family, also wanted to help, even though they didn’t know the family personally.
“It was for a good cause,” Dodson said. “That’s the main thing.”
Even though the weather was terrible, they were glad they had gone out because of that cause.
“It was worth it,” West said.
Although Fishers of Men was expecting better weather and 75 boats, Camp was still happy with the day’s results. In addition to entry fees, funds were generated through sales of food and raffle tickets.
“It started to be a charity tournament for Trevor back in July,” Camp said. “The Fishers of Men organization talked to a bunch of the members and we had a lot of folks come out and say, ‘we’re going to help,’ Unfortunately, it turned into a memorial tournament, but we were able to raise some money for the family and show them some support.”
People who don’t fish can still help the family by donating to the Benefit for Trevor Fund and the Bank of Southside Virginia.