Manatee teen goes fishing with sick kids

Bobby Lewis profiles a local project that helps youth who need a diversion outside.

Savannah Smith has one expectation when she stepped onto Chasten Whitfield’s boat:

“To have fun.”

She did and so did her host.

The pair of teenage girls had never met before spending the afternoon fishing nearly Holmes Beach. Whitfield is a regular on the water. Smith, not as much.

“It’s a lot more fun than I expected it to be,” she said with a smile after catching a small grouper. Whitfield beamed with pride.

Whitfield, 16, has been taking children who are facing illnesses out on her boat to fish for the past six months. Children like Smith love the experience.

“It makes it sometimes really hard for me to walk and talk,” said Smith, who is facing Myasthenia Gravis. “Somedays I can’t talk from my MG.”

Whitfield gets just as much out of the trips as the kids she’s hosting.

“I like seeing exactly what’s happening so when I see a girl catch a fish for the first time and the smile on her face it’s like instant, alright, this is worth it,” she said with a smile.

Smith, who moved with her family to the Tampa Bay area three years ago from Tennessee, caught four fish, including a nice-sized grouper. If you would like your child to fish with Whitfield, you can reach her on Facebook.  


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