ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla.-- He was loved by many in the community, and well known in the fishing community.
When 33-year-old Lenny Schelin was diagnosed with glioblastoma in 2017, it took many people by surprise, and left many people heartbroken. “His biggest fear was he was going to lose his skill for fishing,” said his mother, Debbie Johnston.
He fought hard against the disease for 17 months until he lost his battle in July, 2018. The disease progresses quickly and aggressively, but is incredibly rare in people Lenny’s age.
The Fort Pierce native was an avid fisherman. Now, his loved ones are pulling together to raise money to find a cure for glioblastoma in a way that honors Lenny’s legacy.
You did not have to know Lenny long to learn where his heart was. “It didn’t matter what kind of fish he was fishing for, he just loved it,” said Johnston.
She says it was his passion almost literally his entire life. “He was I think 4-days-old when we first took him out on the boat for the first time,” Johnston said.
He continued fishing as a kid. “When he was 11, I believe, he won his first fishing tournament,” Johnston said.
He competed in countless fishing tournaments as a teen and adult, and after his diagnosis. “He would first mate on a lot of boats, or he would rig for boat, or he would catch fish or bait for boats as they were going out," his mom said.
Lenny always wore a gold necklace which he won in his very first tournament. It was a token for his passion, and he only took it off a couple time in his life- either to get it repaired, or when keeping it on was simply not an option during his cancer battle. “That was for his radiation treatments. And I took it off him at the house when he was in his final days,” Johnston said.
Lenny worked for years with Tony Huerta, the owner of Lo Que Sea, the boat on which Lenny competed in dozens of tournaments. Huerta is leading the local charge to raise money for a cure for glioblastoma, organizing the first annual Lenny Schelin Jr. Memorial Fishing Tournament.
Much more funding is needed for researching treatments and possible causes of glioblastoma. “Because there’s very little known about glios,” Johnston said.
She is hopeful the fundraiser will make some kind of difference and spare future families from having to experience the same diagnosis. “I wish it was gone tomorrow. But at the same token that’s not reality. We know there’s more coming. We know there’s more coming in this community," she said.
Money raised from the tournament will be donated to glioblastoma researchers at the University of Miami, where Lenny received treatment.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED:
The tournament lasts 8 days, in addition to a kick-off party Friday. Participants can fish two of the eight days, with weigh-in sites at the Fort Pierce City Marina and Fish Heads of Stuart.
You can register to participate in the tournament at any point during the week. If you do not want to participate in the fishing tournament, but would still like to donate to the cause, contact firstname.lastname@example.org