ENGLEWOOD — It’s the little things that Dorothy Ott does for Dominic Sharrett that makes him know he’s important to her.
Dominic turned 12 on Saturday. He had already planned on going to the 10th annual Englewood Fishing Tournament with Ott. What he didn’t know is she baked him cupcakes with vanilla icing and different-colored jelly beans on them.
Unlike some tweens, Dominic isn’t paired with a “Big Brother” through the school-based Big Brothers Big Sisters program. For the past year and a half, Ott visited Dominic at L.A. Ainger Middle School.
“We talk,” Ott said. “We might do some homework.”
Somethings Ott really enjoys about Dominic is like her, he likes to play cards.
“He’s a mean card player,” Ott said. “We play 99, Go Fish, Steal the Old Man’s Bundle and Farkle. We have a great time.”
On Saturday, the pair fished at Chadwich Park in Manasota Key along with about 35 other pairs of “Bigs” and “Littles.” After the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to Dominic, he shared his cupcakes with the crowd.
“I haven’t smiled like this in a long time,” he said.
Ott says when her husband asks her how her day with Dominic went, she jokes and says, “I gave him some real good advice.”
“The truth is I really like Dominic, he’s a very special young man,” Ott said. “He’s not afraid of anything. He can do anything he sets his mind to do.”
While Dominic and Ott have a special bond, another L.A. Ainger Middle Schooler 11-year-old Katelyn Mason is on a wait list to one day have a “Big” in her life.
“My little sister Heather has a “Big” sister (Debra Boone) and they paint and swim together,” Katelyn said. “They always go out for ice cream.”
Heather said she can’t wait to be matched with someone who enjoys spending time with her.
Heather, Katelyn and their mom, Teresa, fished together at the event.
“I almost caught three crabs and two fish, but they jumped and escaped from my fishing pole,” said 8-year-old Heather, a Myakka River Elementary School student.
Ed Pesso spent the morning with his “Little” Christian Grasland, 10.
“What I like about Ed is that he’s nice,” Christian said. “We make each other laugh.”
Pesso has mentored several “Littles” in the past 10 years.
“I had a “Little” named Zak, but he’s not so little anymore,” Pesso said. “He’s growing up. He’s in high school. He has a girlfriend. Christian and I like to go to baseball games. We went and they let the “Littles” run the bases and taught them how to bat. It was a great time. We are headed to a game after the fishing tournament.”
For 10 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters teamed up with the Englewood Fishing Club to sponsor the tournament. The club members organize, cook lunch and help during the event. Then they give each “Little” a certificate for spending the morning fishing with Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“We get the fishing poles from a grant from Fish Florida,” said longtime Englewood Fishing Club member Dick Kern. “The grant money comes from the Sailfish specialty license plate. Twenty dollars from each plate goes toward fishing education and doing something positive for kids. The grant gives more than 20,000 fishing poles out statewide each year. It’s a really great program. Gasparilla Marina donated all of the bait and drinks to the fishing tournament.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters honored Englewood Fishing Club board members Barry and Kathy Kean for all their hard work and dedication.
“This club has been sponsoring this tournament for 10 years,” Natalie Anderson Big Brothers Big Sisters Englewood mentor manager said. “They’ve been doing it longer than I have been with Big Brothers Big Sisters. We can’t thank them enough because everyone had a great time today.”
“Littles” were given awards for the biggest fish, most fish and smallest fish caught.
For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters in Englewood, call 941-473-4003.