August 10, 2022

On Sunday, July 31, students from The New England Center for Children (NECC) had the opportunity to attend the annual Fishin’ with a Mission event, hosted by NECC parent Eli Delany. This was the 10th year Delany has hosted the event, a nationally recognized bass fishing tournament where members of the community can enjoy fun activities including fishing, boat riding, and a bouncy house.  

“My favorite part of the event is seeing a child catch their first fish and the look of wonder and amazement on their faces,” said Delany.

Delany, a competitive angler who travels throughout the Northeast participating in bass fishing tournaments, started Fishin’ with a Mission/My Little Buddy’s Boat Inc. to raise money and awareness for autism. His son, Luke, has been a student at NECC since 2004. Part of the proceeds from the event are donated to NECC, a token of Delany’s appreciation for the way the Center has transformed both Luke and Eli’s lives. The event is also a way to share his love of the sport with other children and families, not just his own.

“From a young age, Luke has been able to join me boating and fishing,” said Delany. “Being able to provide this experience to students, especially the residential students is very meaningful to me.”

More than 90 staff and students from NECC attended the event, which was held at the Mystic Wellington Yacht Club in Medford. Students had the opportunity to take a boat ride along the Mystic River, try their hand at fishing off the docks, and partake in a bouncy house and inflatable water slide. There was also a barbeque and refreshments for families to enjoy.

“Overall, this was our most successful event between the tournament and the family portion of the day,” said Delany.

Fishin’ with a Mission is hosted through Delany’s autism nonprofit organization, My Little Buddy’s Boat Inc., which is well-known throughout the fishing and marine community thanks to Delany. Not only does he garner support and donations from some of the top companies in the industry for this particular event, but his nonprofit’s decal is “recognized by fishing pros and the marine industry,” he added. “I want my endeavors to grow so that more companies get involved in helping kids with autism and their families nationwide.”

Though Luke will graduate from NECC this August, Delany hopes to continue holding Fishin’ with a Mission to support NECC and other individuals and organizations that serve children with autism “for years to come,” he shared.

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