TAMPA, Fla. - A local teen who brings young cancer patients on fishing trips has a new mission -- and this time he's bringing a whole flotilla with him for the ride.
Jake Klopfenstein, now 14 years old, has helped countless kids battling cancer, and their families, take their minds off the diagnosis though his non-profit organization, Angling for Relief -- all with a rod and reel. His organization is teaming up with another non-profit, 1Voice, to assemble as many boats as possible for a flotilla event on Sept. 19.
The flotilla will start at the Ballast Point Pier, with the lead boat departing at 10 a.m., explained Mary-Ann Massolio, executive director for the 1Voice Foundation.
"We're going to go for 46 minutes representing the 46 children diagnosed with cancer every day in the United States," she explained to FOX 13. "We're going to be joined by a group coming from Hillsborough River and hopefully, our goal is to have about 200 boats."
LINK: If you're interested in joining the flotilla event, head over to anglingforrelief.org.
It's a citywide, city-supported event, Massolio said, with Mayor Jane Castor joining in as the grand marshall. She said there will be city boats from fire rescue and the police department.
But Castor is not the only guest-of-honor, Klopfenstein said during an interview on Good Day Tampa Bay.
"Captain Jack," the Pirate Water Taxi that chugs along the Hillsborough River, will be donating their service for the day.
"We're going to have a ton of pediatric cancer patients on that boat. They're going to be our lead boat," Klopfenstein explained. "So, we are going to be following them in a single file line for 46 minutes. We're just going to follow and go all the way down to Tampa General Hospital, turn around and go back out."
Pediatric cancer families are used to wearing masks, being isolated and already had to practice social distancing. But the pandemic has changed one thing for them, said Massolio.
"What is new is our inability to provide the programs and services by providing our support groups and getting them together and being with the kids," she explained. "We miss it desperately. We can't go in the hospital itself."
Even if you don't own a boat, Klopfenstein said you can still show your support to raise pediatric cancer awareness.
"You can just stand here with a poster and wear gold for pediatric cancer awareness and show your support," he offered, "even if you're not on the water."
The plan is for the flotilla event to grow every year.