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Rates and Reels Gets Real On the Boat With Rob Whan, CEO of Caleb’s Crusade Against Childhood Cancer
My fishing show, “Rates and Reels,” has definitely evolved since I started it back in September. I’m proud of the show — it’s fulfilling to be able to spotlight my fellow southwest Florida peers’ accomplishments and goals, gain a little useful insight for the audience and myself, and, of course, rustle up some dinner along the way. Production quality has skyrocketed as the show gradually found its footing, and I have to say that looking back, my interviewing skills have improved, as well. That said, one of the most impactful episodes for me happened when the show was brand-new, on the day I went out on the boat with my friend Rob Whan, CEO of the charity Caleb’s Crusade Against Childhood Cancer. We started the day in a killer spot, just off the edge of the mangroves in the Caloosahatchee River. Captain Conway assured us there were a lot of great snook beneath the clear water, and lo and behold, almost immediately, Rob reeled in a snook. It wasn’t big enough to keep, but it sure fought like it was. Soon after, he reeled in a toothy Spanish mackerel — a big, silver fish that can really give you a chomp with their serrated gnashers if you’re not careful. These guys in particular gave us a run for our money that day, cutting the line from at least two monster fish. Meanwhile, I snagged a good-sized mangrove snapper; and, as we all know, those are one of the tastiest fish of all. They’re natural, organic, and fresh — and best of all, my kids love every bite. We moved on from there to float between two mangrove islands. That is where we caught two huge redfish. They put up an amazing fight, and Rob worked them silly. If I’m being honest, I was getting a little jealous of Rob’s fishing prowess. But then I caught one of the most bizarre fish I’ve ever seen: an alligator gar, with a long, sharp-toothed snout. It was rare, because they are usually in more fresh water than what we were fishing. The thing really battled me, almost slipping out of my hands more than once, but I got a good picture with it. I’m pretty sure I won that fight, but I came close to losing.
As fun as fishing is, though, at some point, it came time to get down to interviewing my guest. Rob and his family have a tragic, moving story. He started his charity after the loss of his son, Caleb, to hypodiploid leukemia in 2008. Following Caleb’s diagnosis at just 3 and a half years old, Rob and his wife, Monique, went to Duke University to get a bone transplant for their son. The transplant appeared to go well, with minimal side effects, but 100 days later, doctors told the family Caleb had relapsed, and there was basically nothing they could do. Tragically, Caleb passed away about a month after being put in hospice, just 11 days after his fourth birthday. Rob founded the organization in order to help families going through what his family experienced in that tragic, trying time, and to give these poor kids a fighting chance. Their funds go primarily to local southwest Florida families to aid with mortgage payments, treatment costs, rent payments, and any of the other costs that become nearly impossible to manage under the huge cost of cancer treatment. “The unique thing about our foundation is the relationship we have with the families; and we can dial in exactly what their needs are and help them the best we can,” Rob says. It’s always a pleasure to highlight local businesspeople and community leaders, while having a bit of fun in on the side. If you’re interested in volunteering or donating to Rob’s organization, visit
calebscrusade. org. Or, if you’re
looking for a fishing show that puts our community at the forefront, check out the Rates and Reels channel on YouTube.
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