Tampa Bay boaters support pediatric cancer research during Halloween Boat Parade

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – As the sun went down Saturday night, Jake Klopfenstein was the captain of the zombie fisherman boat during the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation’s 3rd annual Lighted Halloween Boat Parade presented by the Freedom Boat Club of Tampa Bay.

The Halloween themed boat parade raises money to support the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation’s mission of developing better treatments for children with cancer.

“We picked it because we’re all fishermen in my family and we thought it would be pretty creative to go with the Halloween theme of being zombies,” Klopfenstein said. The Plant High School junior explained to 8 On Your Side why he cares so much about helping pediatric cancer patients.

“When I was younger I had a friend named Ryan who was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma at a pretty young age and I noticed he was never having fun with us,” Klopfenstein said.

After his friend passed away following a battle with bone cancer, Klopfenstein started his own non-profit when he was 12-years-old. He said the goal of “Angling for Relief” is to provide pediatric cancer patients a therapeutic diversion through fishing.

“And we know that fishing is something that really calms you down and just completely changes your mindset for the better and we thought what better way to make these kids feel better than teach them how to fish,” Klopfenstein said.

One of the programs is to drop off dry fishing kits with kids in their hospital rooms.

“We’ve actually had patients playing with their fishing poles while receiving chemo,” Klopfenstein said.

The other events bring children with cancer and their families out to the water.

“Bring them out with volunteers, give them bait, fishing rods everything,” Klopefstein said. “Just let them fish, let them be kids. Nobody is asking why they have scars or why they have a brace on their leg or anything and we just try to make them feel like normal kids.”

“Angling for Relief” is hosting its next fishing event at a Madeira Beach seawall the morning of Saturday November 12.